Newcastle vs Leicester preview, betting preview and prediction: Leicester head to St James' Park at a good time
Newcastle to win and under 2.5 goals @ 17/4 with Paddy Power
Leicester to win to nil @ 15/4 with Paddy Power
Score draw @ 13/4 with Paddy Power
When Newcastle and Leicester clash at St James’ Park on Saturday, it will be a crucial game for both teams. One defeat under Claude Puel since the Frenchman’s arrival has the Foxes looking upward having been languishing at the bottom weeks ago. Newcastle, though, have nosedived since beating Crystal Palace at the end of October. That win took them into the top six, and they had been even higher than that; but just one point since has them in 15th, four points above danger. Rafa Benitez is still as popular as ever with the fans, who wait and see nervously about the reported takeover of the club.
Leicester’s counter attacking style of play will make life very tough for Newcastle. Riyad Mahrez was PFA Player of the Year in 2016 as Leicester won the title and he is suddenly finding his form again. Jamie Vardy is still scoring goals, too, while the emergence of Damarai Gray has been fascinating for all to see. Newcastle have a chance if they can stay in the game, but the worry for them is whether they can keep a lid on Leicester going forward.
The most concerning thing for Newcastle is how much their defensive structure has abandoned them in recent weeks. They have conceded more in this run than in the games before combined, and they look like conceding when they are attacked for the most part. Individual errors have proven costly, but they did take the lead at both Manchester United and Chelsea recently, proving they can compete. They must continue to show that performance level for the entire game if they are to turn this run around, though.
Leicester were slow starters under Craig Shakespeare; they weren’t on the cusp of disaster but neither were they showing any sign of improvement. The change in the dugout has made a real difference, with the only defeat coming at home to Manchester City. They piled misery on Tottenham with a win at the King Power Stadium before following it up with another at home to an in-form Burnley side, who many expected to take the points. The vistors will rightly believe they can get something out of the game at St James’ Park.
A big part of the reason Newcastle have struggled at the back has been the loss of Jamaal Lascelles to injury against Bournemouth. He is yet to return over a month later and he is doubtful for this game. Mikel Merino has returned to the side but he is still continuing his recovery from back trouble. Like Lascelles, Christian Atsu has been missing since the Bournemouth defeat but he has a better chance of returning this time.
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Leicester have no fresh concerns, with Robert Huth and Matty James still not yet fit enough to return to the squad.