- Newcastle lost just three of their last 14 Premier League home games.
- The Magpies beat Sheffield United 2-0 earlier this season at Bramall Lane.
- Sheffield United failed to score in three of their last five away matches.
- Newcastle kept a clean sheet in each of their last three home fixtures.
Sheffield United’s stuttering re-start
Sheffield United failed to make the most of their catch-up fixture at Aston Villa on Wednesday evening, and while the point they secured in a 0-0 draw moved them up to 6th spot, Chris Wilder will have viewed the outcome as a missed opportunity.
A hugely controversial technological malfunction denied the Blades a first half goal when Villa keeper Orjan Nyland carried the ball over his own line, though the hosts, who racked up 14 attempts to the visitor’s five, were well worth a share of the spoils on the balance of play.
The draw allowed Sheffield United to at least carry their unbeaten run in the Premier League, which now stands at five games, to this side of the postponement, and the Blades’ 1-0 defeat to Man City on January 21 remains their only reverse in eight top-flight contests overall.
Newcastle searching for mid-table security
Before the postponement of the domestic season, Newcastle United had been developing a tough to crack exterior, as evidenced by their run of just two defeats in 13 fixtures in all competitions between early January and early March.
With a buffer of eight points established between the Magpies in 13th and the drop zone, and a place in the FA Cup quarter finals also in the bank, Steve Bruce has enjoyed a productive debut campaign in the St. James’ Park dugout despite rumours of the club’s money-spinning takeover providing a constant distraction.
It’s in the North East that Bruce and Newcastle have done some of their best work, and the Magpies were turned over just three times in 14 Premier League fixtures on their own patch since August – a record they will hope to lean on again when they get back to business this weekend.
Chance for victory open for Magpies?
With little chance to rest and recuperate between Wednesday’s trip to Villa and Sheffield United’s second away assignment on the spin at Newcastle on Sunday, the Blades’ squad, short on match fitness, should arrive in the North East a little jaded this weekend.
Newcastle, who beat United 2-0 with a little help from VAR in the reverse Premier League clash between the teams in December, will be aiming to capitalise on any fatigue in their opponent’s ranks, and with their home form strong this season, we think that combination of favourable circumstances could allow the Magpies to claim an unlikely win this weekend.
Sheffield United, who have now won just once in five attempts on the road, failed to register in three of their last five Premier League tussles as the visiting team, and a defensively robust Newcastle, who kept clean sheets in each of their last three home matches against Chelsea, Norwich and Burnley respectively, should prove tough to penetrate.
We think the extra freshness and energy wielded by Newcastle should give them the edge they need to force a narrow victory over the Blades, and our correct score prediction points towards a 1-0 home win.
Bruce’s men have averaged just 0.8 goals per 90 minutes of Premier League action at St. James’ Park this season, and a single strike is about the upper limit of their attacking capabilities at present.
Key Battle – Allan Saint-Maximin vs Chris Basham
The mercurially talented Allan Saint-Maximin regularly mixes flashes of brilliances with spells of ineffectiveness, though the French attacker’s unpredictability makes him one of Newcastle’s biggest threats.
The 23-year-old has scored just two Premier League goals for the Magpies since swapping Nice for Tyneside last summer, though he plundered one of those against Sheffield United in December.
On Sunday, the furthest right member of the Blades’ central defensive trio Chris Basham, will likely find himself in close proximity to Saint-Maximin, and the reliable 31-year-old will need to be fully tuned in to avoid being dazzled by the Frenchman’s rapid footwork.
Newcastle United vs Sheffield United team news
Jetro Willems remains sidelined with a knee injury, though Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummettand Sean Longstaff should all be fit enough for selection if picked by Steve Bruce.
Five Magpies youngsters, Tom Allan, Daniel Barlaser, Dan Langley, Kell Watts and Jack Young have all been drafted into the senior squad for the remainder of the campaign to provide cover and numbers ahead of the packed schedule.
Newcastle predicted line-up: Dubravka, Yedlin, Fernandez, Lascelles, Schar, Rose, Hayden, Shelvey, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton
John Fleck and Jack O’Connell, who sat out Sheffield United’s draw at Villa with minor knocks, should be available again, and that duo’s return brings Chris Wilder’s squad up to full strength.
Having looked lacklustre in attack on Wednesday, Wilder could choose to freshen things up in the final third. David McGoldrick and Lys Mousset could come off the bench to start in place of Oliver McBurnie and Billy Sharp.
Sheffield United predicted line-up: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O’Connell, Baldock, Lundstram, Fleck, Norwood, McGoldrick, Mousset