Jake Pearson previews the Friday Night Football clash between Newcastle and Leeds, picking out a best bet and score prediction.
1pt Leeds -1 on the corner handicap at 11/8 (BetVictor)
Newcastle finished six places and 17 points clear of the relegation zone last term, Steve Bruce’s side kicking into gear in the latter stages of the season, but this campaign may be an even tougher one to navigate, having already lost three of their four opening matches.
Yet to win a game this term, Bruce may point to the fact that his side have already played two of last season’s top six, but in reality, they have also played two of last season’s bottom 10.
A toothless defeat away at Aston Villa was followed by a bitterly disappointing 2-2 draw with Southampton – Newcastle taking the lead in the 91st minute only to be pegged back in the 96th – with a Carabao Cup exit to Burnley sandwiched in the middle for good measure.
There are no two ways about it, it has been another bad start to a Premier League campaign for Steve Bruce and Newcastle.
Leeds’ start to the season hasn’t been much better than Newcastle’s however, occupying 17th position in the table and still searching for their first win.
Like the Magpies, Leeds have also played two of last season’s top six – two of last season’s top four, in fact – but 5-1 and 3-0 defeats to Manchester United and Liverpool respectively are hardly encouragingly results.
Draws at home to Everton and away at Burnley were far from disastrous, but they leave Marcelo Bielsa’s men in need of a win to really kick start their season, and to swat away any notions of ‘second season syndrome’.
Leeds won both meetings between these two sides last term, but they are in a different position this time around; a more fragile one.
If Bielsa’s gung-ho methods were being questioned when Leeds were winning matches last season, they will be coming under increasing scrutiny now the results have deserted them.
That is not to say Leeds will change their approach though, the Argentinian coach famed for his stubbornness, among other things, which could make for an exciting game at St James’ Park.
Like Leeds, Newcastle are space-exploiters, and in particular Allan Saint-Maximin.
The Frenchman will latch onto any loose passes from the Leeds players and will instantly start up a Newcastle counter-attack, just as Leeds will be snapping into challenges in order to mount their own swift attacking transitions.
Given the likely frenetic nature of this game, and the fact it is likely to be decided by either a defensive lapse, or a moment of brilliance, betting in the 1X2 market is ill-advised.
There are plenty of other markets to get stuck into however, and the one that immediately catches the eye is the corner betting.
Only Liverpool and Manchester City won more corners than Leeds last season, Bielsa’s men averaging more than six per game, while only four sides conceded more than Newcastle.
West Brom and Crystal Palace are the only teams to win fewer corners than Newcastle in 2020/21, and this season Bruce’s men sit fourth bottom in terms of corners won.
Newcastle have recorded the fourth-lowest average possession this season, Leeds the fifth-highest, so expect the Magpies to be under the cosh for plenty of this match.
Also, not only have Newcastle conceded the most goals this season (12), they have also allowed the most chances according to Expected Goals (10.8 xGA), and if they continue to allow opportunities at a similar rate, corners should be in abundance for Leeds.
Win or lose, Bielsa's men are fancied to rack up more corners than Newcastle, and a price of 11/8 for LEEDS -1 ON THE CORNER HANDICAP makes plenty of appeal.
Score prediction: Newcastle 1-1 Leeds (Sky Bet odds: 6/1)
Odds correct at 1130 BST (15/09/21)
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.