Leicester v Newcastle – Safety motivation enough to get Steve Bruce’s side over the line?
It is Leicester v Newcastle on Friday night, so can Newcastle United make it three wins in their last four visits and all but secure their safety this weekend?
However, with Brendan Rodgers’ side hoping to take another step towards Champions League qualification, the Magpies will have to be on top form to return to Tyneside with three points.
Leicester have been impressive this season and whilst their form dipped at this stage last season, they have shown very few signs of having a repeat this time.
Overall, Leicester have won eight of the last ten Premier League fixtures (home and away) against Newcastle; Steve Bruce has lost all four games to the Foxes (including a League Cup game), with a 5-0 loss in this same fixture last season.
Newcastle currently sit on 36 points, nine points above the drop zone, but will be desperate to add to that tally and confirm their Premier League status before playing Man City and then the final two matches of the season against Sheffield United and Fulham.
Before last week’s disappointing defeat to Arsenal, Steve Bruce’s side had experienced something of an upturn in performances and results. Consecutive wins over Burnley and West Ham were bookended by decent draws against Tottenham and Liverpool.
Whilst these were encouraging displays and put Newcastle on the cusp of safety, the performance against Arsenal was incredibly underwhelming. Hardly threatening the Londoners and ended the game with 10 men when Schar was sent off.
The four game unbeaten run mentioned above followed that shocking performance away at Brighton, so Newcastle fans will be hopeful that the team can once again bounce back from a poor defeat and produce better at Leicester.
One statistic that is on Newcastle’s side is the away form at the King Power Stadium in recent years. Before the 5-0 defeat last year, we had won both away fixtures played at Leicester since our promotion back to the Premier League in 2017.
The most memorable of those for Newcastle fans will surely be the 2-1 away win in 2018. The fixture birthed the viral video that fans still reminisce about now on Twitter, where a succession of tackles went flying in across the pitch. The fight and diligence of that squad under Rafa Benitez was epitomised by this passage of play.
There have certainly been glimpses of that same fight this season but consistency has been Steve Bruce’s side’s biggest hurdle.
In fact, when Newcastle visited Leicester in April 2018, Newcastle’s points tally was very similar to that of Steve Bruce’s side at this point in the current season.
Before that game, Rafa Benitez’s side were on 35 points, but edging ever closer to safety. Plus that game on 7 April 2018 was the seventh last match of the season, not fourth last as we have this time.
Goals from Jonjo Shelvey and Ayoze Perez, now a Leicester player, sealed an important win and placed Newcastle on 38 points, just below the magic 40 point mark.
If Steve Bruce’s Newcastle side can emulate the 2018 side, Newcastle’s tally will rise to 39 points. With the current gap between NUFC and Fulham, a win will surely be enough to secure safety this season.
The performances of our squad have fluctuated hugely this season and on far too many occasions, hopes of a run of form have been dashed by underwhelming performances.
Knowing what victory would mean for their season, can it be enough to motivate this Newcastle side to get across the line?
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