Leeds United-Newcastle United Preview
Newcastle United barred newspaper reporters from asking questions at Steve Bruce's media conference on Monday, but their manager insisted he "will not shy away" from the challenge facing him.
The Magpies have been in dismal form heading into Tuesday's home meeting with Leeds United, who thrashed them 5-2 at Elland Road in December.
Newcastle are winless in their last 10 games across all competitions, losing their last five, and the pressure has been piled on Bruce, a largely unpopular appointment with the club's fanbase.
"All you can do is ignore the noise and focus on the match," Bruce said on Monday, while fielding questions from Premier League rights holders only.
"I'm still convinced, yes (I am the right man). I will never shy away from a challenge, that's for sure."
Bruce is aiming to add Bournemouth assistant Graeme Jones to his coaching staff, but first must attempt to claim a much-needed win against a Leeds side who are yet to taste victory themselves in 2021.
Leeds have lost to Tottenham and Brighton and Hove Albion in their two league games this year, while they also suffered an FA Cup upset at Crawley Town, and Marcelo Bielsa knows his team have issues of their own.
"It's not so much about the rival, but about what we can do to hurt the opponent. We analysed the difficulties of the opponent, but of course we worry more about our own difficulties," he said.
"Our difficulties are just as present as theirs. We will try to improve ourselves as a team. We're not focused on the opponents bad run of form, we're focused on our own game and trying to improve our form. It's not a rivals poor run of form that will help us to improve, we have to improve."
NEWCASTLE UNITED - Jamaal Lascelles
A COVID-19 enforced lay off has hampered Lascelles' season, but when he has played, Newcastle's captain has not been up to the standard required, and the Magpies need him to step up and be counted.
LEEDS UNITED - Patrick Bamford
In his first eight league games this term, Bamford scored seven goals from 29 shots (24 per cent conversion rate), averaging a goal every 96 minutes. Since then, he has scored only three goals from 36 attempts (eight per cent conversion), averaging a goal every 292 minutes, and Leeds need their striker to get back on the goal trail.
- Newcastle boss Bruce has never lost a home league match against Leeds in his managerial career (P7 W5 D2), facing no side more without losing at home in the league (also seven games vs Bristol City and Stoke City).
- Leeds are the only Premier League team yet to score in all competitions in 2021 - the only previous side in the competition to fail to score in their first four matches in a year was Cardiff City in 2019, while the last top-flight team to do so and lose their first four matches in a year was Ipswich Town in 1970.
- Leeds managed just seven shots in their last match against Brighton, only having fewer in three matches under Marcelo Bielsa in all competitions, most recently against Liverpool on the opening day of this season (six).
- Newcastle have kept just one clean sheet in their last 13 Premier League home games (W3 D4 L6), with that coming in a goalless draw against Liverpool. The Magpies had kept four consecutive clean sheets at St James' Park prior to this run.
- Leeds have lost their last three games in all competitions by an aggregate score of 0-7. They last lost four in a row back in November 2017, while they last lost as many consecutively without scoring in April 2010.
Updated January 25, 2021