Tactical Preview: Newcastle United takes on Leicester City

With this frantic Premier League season drawing to a close, Newcastle prepares for their penultimate game when they take on Leicester under lights on at St James’ on Monday evening.

It is a tale of two seasons when it comes to comparing the fortunes of Newcastle and Leicester.

While on Tyneside there is palpable excitement about the Magpies’ likely return to the Champions League, and the attacking football being played under head coach Howe. The Foxes, however, have endured a torrid season on and off the field, with dire form midway through the season, cup-winning Rogers was sacked and replaced with Dean Smith.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – MAY 15: A dejected Harvey Barnes of Leicester City during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool FC at The King Power Stadium on May 15, 2023 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The objectives facing Newcastle with this fixture are straightforward – don’t lose and you’ll find yourself in next season’s Champion’s League sorting pots.

Despite only a point being required for qualification, Newcastle will no doubt come out all guns blazing, reflecting the frenetic start they had in the Brighton game, which paid dividends when the Magpies went in at the break leading the high-flying Seagulls 2-0.

Howe likes to run with consistency in his Newcastle team, and we expect him to name an all-but-unchanged side, apart from the absence of Joe Willock, who was ruled out after a hamstring injury suffered against Brighton.

Young Newcastle Starlet Elliot Anderson is expected to replace Willock in right Midfield, with Howe commenting that he has improved and that he has appreciated his versatility off the bench. Anderson has mainly been used off the bench as he gets used to his first full season in senior football.

With the Magpies light in midfield, youngster Lewis Miley will likely find himself on the bench.

Considering Newcastle’s opposition, 90min.com suggests that the Foxes boss Smith will persist with the same side that suffered a resounding 3-0 loss to Liverpool. On a positive note, the Foxes will have extra firing power available from the bench with Iheanacho now available after recovering from injury.

Predicted line-ups: 

Newcastle (4-3-3)

GK: Pope
RB: Trippier (C)
CB: Schar
CB: Botman
LB: Burn
CDM: Guimares
LCM: Joelinton
RCM: Anderson
RW: Almiron
LW: Isak
ST: Wilson

Leicester (4-2-3-1)

GK: Iversen
RB: Ricardo
CB: Faes
CB: Evans
LB: Castagne
LDM: Soumare
RDM: Ndidi
RAM: Maddison
CAM: Tielemans
LAM: Barnes
ST: Vardy

One to Watch: Newcastle United

One to watch: Elliot Anderson – the Newcastle Academy product nicknamed “Geordie Maradona” by the Toon faithful, looks set to make only his second Premier League start of the season, after the game against Liverpool.

Anderson will be keen to impress to keep himself in Howe’s thoughts, with the aim of establishing himself further in the first team come next season.

Able to play central behind the striker, left, right and center midfield Howe has remarked on the positional versatility of Anderson. A player who is good on the ball, with great close control and the ability to go past players and play dangerous passes to his forwards.

One to Watch: Leicester City

Harvey Barnes is someone Magpies fans should keep their eyes on this match. He is Leicester City’s leading marksman with 12 goals.

Barnes is one of two Leicester attackers Newcastle Sporting Director Ashworth have been keeping tabs on recently, according to the Leicester Mercury. 

Barnes is a speedy attacking winger with an eye for goals but has often played a crucial provider laying in the assists for Leicester legend Vardy in seasons passed. He has intricate dribbling skills and provides good crosses, as well as the deadly finishing touch that has seen him rack up 13 goal contributions for the team (12G, 1A).

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – JANUARY 10: Timothy Castagne of Leicester City, Alexander Isak of Newcastle United and Nampalys Mendy of Leicester City challenge during the Carabao Cup Quarter Final match between Newcastle United and Leicester City at St James’ Park on January 10, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images)

The match tactics

Newcastle only needs a point from the match, but is likely to start fast with high-intensity pressing against the vulnerable Leicester back four, especially with Leicester’s porous defense conceding joint 3rd highest goals – 67.

On the other hand, Leicester is expected to give a dogged and physical fighting performance considering the predicament they find themselves in being so near to the drop, whatever points they can get would be a massive boost for survival.

Leicester Will probably play a 4-2-3-1, and will hope the creative threats of Maddison and Tielemans can prove a spark for talismanic Vardy or lively winger Barnes. They will try to use their pace to beat the Newcastle Press, which has been notoriously hard to do.

Yet, with desperation comes fragility, and with Leicester piling forward in search of goals, the Magpies can exploit the Foxes’ weak defense, with pressure from a fluid and pacey front three of Isak, Wilson and Almiron.

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All coming off a rich vein of form from the Brighton, they will be hard to stop. As long as the Magpies suppress Leicester’s creativity and attacking threats in the form of Maddison and Barnes, then three points await the Toon, as does the arrival of Champion’s League Football.