Newcastle United will return to St. James’ Park on Monday as they take on Leicester City in their final home game of the season, knowing a point will be enough to secure Champions League football for next season.

Eddie Howe and his charges took a step closer to a top-four finish on Thursday night with a 4-1 win over Brighton and Hove Albion, in one of the Magpies’ best performances of the season at the moment they really needed it. However, Newcastle United, who face Leicester City on Monday, saw their Champions League aspirations get a multifold boost as a consequence of this past weekend’s results elsewhere going their way.

Liverpool had put pressure on top-four favourites Manchester United and Newcastle United by putting together a run of seven straight wins. But they have run their course after Saturday’s game against Aston Villa. The Merseyside outfit huffed and puffed to secure a late winner, but Villa held on to play out a 1-1 draw.

As a consequence, Newcastle are three points ahead of the Reds with two games left to play. So the Magpies need just one more point to see off the challenge from Jurgen Klopp’s side. Even if Newcastle lose against Leicester City and Chelsea, it will then come down to goal difference if Liverpool beat Southampton on the final day of the season.

The Toon are currently seven goals better off than Jurgen Klopp’s side. So the ball is pretty much in Newcastle’s court. Still, Newcastle will look to seal Champions League football in style with a comprehensive victory over Leicester City in front of their home crowd.

As for Leicester City, the Foxes’ Premier League status is hanging by a thread as they prepare to travel to the North East for Monday night’s game. Dean Smith’s men know that points are desperately needed if they are to avoid what could potentially be a cataclysmic drop into the Championship.

After Saturday’s results, only a win could keep their fight against relegation going for another week. The visitors currently sit in 19th place in the table, three points from safety, with two games of the season remaining. The last time these two sides met was back in January when Newcastle ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in the EFL Cup quarter-finals.

The Magpies will also be looking to record a league double over the Foxes, having won 3-0 at the King Power Stadium in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day thanks to goals from Chris Wood, Miguel Almiron, and Joelinton in the first half. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

Eddie Howe’s long list of absentees will include Emil Krafth, Jamaal Lascelles, Sean Longstaff, and Matt Ritchie. Joe Willock went off holding his hamstring on Thursday and is out for the season. Meanwhile, Joelinton also received a knock but could recover in time to start here. Jacob Murphy will require a late fitness test as he continues his recovery from a thigh issue.

Howe is sure to opt for a 4-3-3 formation and could be forced into at least one change after midfielder Willock’s hamstring injury. Nick Pope will play between the sticks for the Tyneside club as he hopes to secure his first Premier League clean sheet in a long time. As ever, Fabian Schar will partner Sven Botman at the centre of Newcastle’s backline, flanked by Kieran Trippier and Dan Burn.

With Sean Longstaff also suffering from fitness issues, young Elliot Anderson should get a deserved chance. The 20-year-old came on against Brighton and did not look out of place. And he should now get the chance to start just his second-ever game in the Premier League, slotting in as a right-midfielder alongside the Brazilian duo of Bruno Guimaraes and Joelinton in the engine room.

Due to a quick turnaround between games, Alexander Isak could be rested for this game. Allan Saint-Maximin will be pushing to start here alongside an electric Miguel Almiron and a red-hot Callum Wilson, the latter of whom has scored 11 goals in his last five starts.

The attacking trio will fancy their chances of causing some problems up against Leicester’s shaky defence. Elsewhere, 17-year-old talented midfielder Lewis Miley made the bench against Brighton due to injury to Jacob Murphy and will likely make his senior debut for the club this Monday.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Anderson, Guimaraes, Joelinton; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin

Leicester City

In a big boost, Kelechi Iheanacho (groin) and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall (ankle) should be fit and raring to go for Monday’s game as Dean Smith’s side attempt to keep their survival hopes alive. But the Leicester City boss admitted that their respective recoveries have been fast-tracked.

James Justin (knee), Danny Ward (finger), Ryan Bertrand (fitness), and Jannik Vestergaard (calf) are all expected to be unavailable to face Newcastle. Caglar Soyuncu (thigh) is unlikely to return until the last game of the season, which could well be his last-ever match. And a farewell moment for him in a Leicester shirt ahead of an expected move to Atletico Madrid.

Dean Smith could name an unchanged eleven at Newcastle despite falling to a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool last time out. But he will try to make his team difficult to break down by recalling towering Harry Souttar to match the physicality and height of this Newcastle side.

Caglar Soyuncu remains injured. So Jonny Evans is likely to keep his place in central defence ahead of Wout Faes, with Danish goalkeeper Daniel Iverson also continuing in goal for the visitors. Ricardo Pereira could step further up the pitch and be involved in the final third from the right-back position, with Timothy Castagne again taking the role on the left.

Up ahead in midfield, a trio of Wilfred Ndidi, Boubakary Soumare, and Youri Tielemans is set to start. Nampalys Mendy has yet to start a game under Smith, and it is doubtful that the Senegalese international will be called upon by the manager now. Meanwhile, Dewsbury-Hall only returned to training on Saturday and may not be fit enough to replace any of the trio in the starting lineup.

Upfront with Jamie Vardy will be the in-demand James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, both of whom will be tasked with providing creativity, and supply to the English striker. Iheanacho was one of City’s standout performers in Smith’s early games. The Nigerian would be keen to impact the game off the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Iversen; Pereira, Evans, Souttar, Castagne; Soumare, Tielemans, Ndidi; Maddison, Iheanacho, Barnes

Key Stats

  • Leicester City have failed to win 13 of their last 14 Premier League matches.
  • Newcastle United have won their last three matches against Leicester in all competitions.
  • Leicester City have scored more goals than any other team in the bottom half of the table—and more than Aston Villa, who are eighth.
  • If Newcastle make it into the Champions League, they will be returning to European football’s elite competition for the first time since 2003.
  • The Foxes come into the game having failed to keep a clean sheet for over six months, with the last shutout coming before the World Cup break against West Ham.

Player to Watch

Callum Wilson

Callum Wilson is on fire in front of goal and continues to show why he is one of the best natural strikers in the Premier League. He is playing the best football of his career and is scoring goals for fun, silencing his critics after enduring a bit of a slump post-World Cup.

The competition for the striker position from back-fit club-record signing Alexander Isak has well and truly spurred the Englishman on. And he is now finding the back of the net at a phenomenal rate. So much so, Eddie Howe has been forced to integrate them both into his starting lineup.

After showing his ice-cold veins from the penalty spot (twice) against Leeds United, Wilson scored late on and then turned provider to set up Bruno Guimaraes’s goal against Brighton to settle the St. James’ Park faithful’s nerves and move the Magpies within sight of Champions League qualification.

Expect him to get the job done and fire Newcastle into the Champions League with a goal or two against this leaky Leicester defence. And do always remember from now on: do whatever you want, but never, ever doubt Wilson!


Newcastle United 2-0 Leicester City

Newcastle United’s home form has been among the best in the Premier League, while Leicester’s away form has taken a downturn in recent weeks, which bodes well for the hosts here. Despite surrendering a few points recently, Newcastle head into this game full of confidence.

Meanwhile, aving beaten Leicester twice this season with a clean sheet, the Magpies are likely to take all three points on Monday evening. Unless the players are getting ahead of themselves, we find it very hard to not see St. James’ Park celebrate Newcastle’s UCL qualification at the final whistle.

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