Newcastle United play Leicester City at St James' Park on Easter Sunday knowing a win would keep The Magpies just three points behind the 9th placed Foxes after becoming one of the form teams of 2022 and winning six out of ten Premier League games since the transfer window shut when the new owners spent the most money in Europe.
One player bought, New Zealand striker Chris Wood, scored his first goal at St James' Park since signing against Wolves on Friday night after first winning the spot kick to pay back some of his £25M fee to make his new club virtually safe from relegation, ten points above his former side Burnley who are currently in the 18th danger position and in breaking news have sacked their long-serving manager Sean Dyche:
Newcastle have seven games left & could do with one more win to make survival even more secure ahead of a final run-in of games which includes a trip to Champions Man City and fellow title-chasers Liverpool at St James' Park and Eddie Howe's men have the ideal chance to do so with back-to-back home games vs Leicester & Crystal Palace.
We Can Talk About Bruno Now
Another January signing, Brazil international Bruno Guimaraes, excelled against Wolves with a Man of the Match performance which really woke up a lot of people who had been sleeping on the magnitude of the talent that Newcastle has bought for an initial £32.5M in January and he was unlucky not to score to cap an excellent display.
Guimaraes' qualities both on the ball and without it were there to see as he fit neatly into a three-man central midfield with JonJo Shelvey and Joelinton in a 6/8 role which had observers purring on social media about his first start:
Howe paid tribute to the Brazilian midfielder:
Newcastle fans will be hoping that midfield triumvirate can repeat the success they had against Wolves' highly-rated midfield against a Leicester side who are having another good top-half of the table campaign while also juggling a Europa League campaign that saw them beat PSV Eindhoven in the Quarter Final on Thursday night:
Brendan Rodgers' Foxes have had a mixed bag of results in Premier League games immediately following Europa League and Europa Conference League clashes this season winning three, drawing three and losing five of the 11 games after a midweek continental clash with notable wins against Man United and Liverpool, draws with West Ham & but losses to Wolves & Aston Villa which Newcastle must strive to emulate.
In the corresponding fixture at The King Power stadium in December, Newcastle eventually lost 4-0 but the way James Maddison bought the penalty for the game's opening goal sparked real controversy with most observers including former referee Dermot Gallagher believing he was extremely fortunate to get a penalty kick:
It was a dodgy decision which killed any momentum Newcastle had going into the game after a first win of the season against Burnley the previous weekend and The Magpies had acquitted themselves well until they were cruelly robbed by The Foxes.
Last season, Newcastle hammered Leicester 4-2 at The King Power stadium and were 4-0 up after 73 minutes following total dominance of the match by Steve Bruce's men and the move for a special 4th goal involving every Magpies player touching the ball:
Leicester won The FA Cup shortly after and followed up that success with a Community Shield win against Man City to kick-start their season and their recent Premier League form has been good beating Crystal Palace last time out, a third win in their last five.
In his pre-match presser, Eddie Howe said winger Ryan Fraser, who was taken off injured early in the Wolves game, was touch and go for the Leicester clash:
which may pave the way for a start for Miguel Almiron, who did well when he came on for Fraser and helped set up Wood's disallowed goal with a terrific drag back skill:
Howe also revealed Joe Willock, who missed last week's game is fit again for selection:
and Kieran Trippier is back training on grass but nowhere near the team just yet and, similarly, Callum Wilson is building up his training and fitness but is still not available.
Looking ahead to the Leicester game, Howe reflected on the 4-0 loss to Leicester in December and said he believed his Newcastle side are more "resilient" now and looked forward to the game against a "full strength" Foxes side who will be on a high after knocking out PSV Eindhoven to qualify for The Europa Conference League Semi-Final:
Prediction - Newcastle 2 Leicester 1