Two Things Newcastle Must Do To Beat Leeds United This Weekend
A solid 3-0 win over Preston North End has strengthened Leeds’ position in the play-off places, allowing them to head to St James’ Park for Friday’s clash with Newcastle in great spirits.
The wheels rather came off Newcastle’s title challenge at Sheffield Wednesday over the weekend after a poor performance and the disappointing 2-1 defeat left them at 2nd place, 2 points behind Brighton.
With the pressure on the home side, Leeds will feel they have every chance of beating Rafa Benitez’ men in their own backyard. And so here are two crucial things Newcastle can do to achieve victory against the odds.
Play With A High Tempo
With a club-high 8 assists and an absolutely massive 2.7 key passes delivered per game, Pablo Hernandez is by far Leeds’ most creative player. Hernandez is extremely cultured and, in terms of control, passing, and positional skills, he is still very much a player of Premier League quality.
However, like every player, Hernandez has his weaknesses. He was not as effective as usual in the cut-and-thrust games away to Reading and Brentford because he was afforded less time on the ball in those contests.
It’s probably no coincidence. So Newcastle would do very well to ensure that they start fast and hustle the opposition. When Hernandez gets good possession, he generally creates something with it.
Pressing Hernandez when he has the ball would be the obvious choice, but charging down everyone and passing the ball to retain possession will go a long way towards Newcastle denying Leeds the time on the ball they need.
Stop The Supply For Wood
Chris Wood has been in stunning form and is so important to Leeds United. With 24 goals in 36 starts, Wood is easily one of the best strikers in this division and is looking at Premier League football next season one way or the other.
Should Wood see enough time on the ball and if enough chances come his way, he will provide the finishing touches which would seal this game for the Elland Road side. However, there is a flaw in that plan.
Wood is not the type of player who will pick up the ball deep, take on 5 Newcastle players and bury a 30-yeard curler into the top corner. He’s a deadly finisher, but a kind of striker who needs to be supplied. The fast tempo mentioned above and less possession to Leeds than usual would be enough to make Wood starve. From there, Shelvey, Ritchie, and co can do the rest.