MX23RW : Friday, February 28 16:49:08| >> :600:5111540:5111540:
Jan 1, 2020 at 3pm UK at ​St James' Park
Attendance: 52,178
NewcastleNewcastle United
LeicesterLeicester City
FT(HT: 0-2)
Perez (36'), Maddison (39'), Choudhury (87')

Preview: Newcastle United vs. Leicester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the New Year's Day Premier League clash between Newcastle United and Leicester City, including prediction, team news and possible lineups.

Newcastle United host Leicester City at St James' Park in their first match of 2020, with both clubs having enjoyed better-than-expected campaigns so far.

The Magpies sit 11th in the table after 20 games - closer to fifth than they are to the relegation zone - whereas Leicester are flying high in second place, albeit 13 points adrift of leaders Liverpool.

Match preview

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers pictured in December 2019© Reuters

Leicester can look back on 2019 as a year in which they made great strides, to the point where they head into 2020 as Liverpool's closest challengers at the top of the Premier League table.

Such is the Merseysiders' lead that Leicester will first and foremost be viewing Thursday's match as an opportunity to strengthen their hold on a Champions League spot rather than close the gap to 10 points, although that is still a feat which deserves plenty of plaudits.

On New Year's Day 2019 the Foxes were six places, 14 points and 19 goals worse off than they find themselves this time around, while they closed out 2018 with a home defeat at the hands of relegation-bound Cardiff City.

It was another difficult end to the year this time, but in more understandable circumstances as they were outclassed by Manchester City and Liverpool either side of Christmas as part of a three-game winless streak, which is the longest they have experienced in a single season under Brendan Rodgers so far.

Leicester did at least return to winning ways before the year was out, though, beating West Ham United 2-1 at the London Stadium on Saturday despite making nine changes to their team.

That result leaves them two points better off than at the same stage of their title-winning 2015-16 campaign, and it is 12 years since they last lost their first league game of a calendar year, so they will be confident of continuing that pace in this match.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce before the match on December 14, 2019© Reuters

Newcastle have enjoyed a relatively successful season of their own so far, though, with Steve Bruce silencing his doubters by picking up 25 points from his opening 20 games at the helm - seven points more than they had at this stage last season under the more popular Rafael Benitez.

The Magpies need just five more wins from their remaining 18 games to reach the 40-point mark, and having already beaten the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur this season there is every possibility of them springing a surprise against Leicester too.

The concern for Bruce will be that his side ended 2019 with a run of three defeats in their final four games, including back-to-back losses to Man United and Everton which saw them allow 22 shots on goal in each game.

Newcastle have not lost three Premier League games in a row since October 2018, though, and they had been particularly impressive at home before Saturday's 2-1 reverse at Everton ended an eight-game league unbeaten streak in front of their own fans which stretched back to August.

Leicester have been even better on the road, though, with only two teams having picked up more away points, one team having scored more away goals and their only three defeats on their travels coming at Old Trafford, Anfield and the Etihad.

The Foxes will come up against a much sturdier Newcastle outfit than the one they beat 5-0 in the reverse fixture, though, when Bruce's job already looked to be under threat before he led the turnaround in form which has lifted them seven points clear of danger.

Newcastle Premier League form: WWLWLL

Leicester Premier League form: WWDLLW
Leicester form (all competitions): WDWLLW

Team News

Jamie Vardy in action for Leicester City on December 14, 2019© Reuters

Leicester are expected to welcome a host of first-teamers back into their starting lineup after resting them at West Ham, including Jamie Vardy.

Vardy was the top-scoring Premier League player in 2019 with 29 and still sits at the top of the scoring charts for this season, and he will be keen to mark the landmark of his newest child by getting 2020 off to a similarly prolific start.

James Maddison, Wilfred Ndidi, Caglar Soyuncu, Ben Chilwell and Youri Tielemans are among the other players who should come back into the team, with Kasper Schmeichel and Jonny Evans the only two players who started both the Boxing Day match and Saturday's win over the Hammers.

There is a slight doubt over right-back Ricardo Pereira, who missed the West Ham game with a tight hamstring but is expected to have fully recovered in time for this match.

Newcastle could be without as many as nine players through injury, with Joelinton, Fabian Schar and Florian Lejeune all picking up minor muscle complaints during the defeat to Everton.

The quick turnaround in fixtures means that all of them could miss this game, while Ciaran Clark, Paul Dummett and Ki Sung-yeung will also be assessed ahead of kickoff.

The match is expected to come too soon for Matt Ritchie, while Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles will not be back until later in January.

Newcastle possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Willems; Almiron, S Longstaff, Shelvey, M Longstaff, Atsu; Carroll

Leicester possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Pereira, Soyuncu, Evans, Chilwell; Perez, Maddison, Ndidi, Tielemans, Barnes; Vardy

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We say: Newcastle 1-2 Leicester

Newcastle have generally been good in front of their own fans this season, but with a lengthy injury list and Leicester back towards full strength this looks like a tough test for them. It will not be easy for the Foxes either, but we are backing them to complete the double over the Magpies.

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Fabian Schar in action for Newcastle on August 6, 2019
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