Sky Sports host Jeff Stelling predicts tight result as Leeds United travel to Newcastle
Jeff Stelling has predicted Leeds United to run high-flying Newcastle close but ultimately come away empty handed on New Year’s Eve.
The Whites held their own but were ultimately undone by familiar defensive failings and the unsurprising goals of Erling Haaland on their long-awaited return to Premier League action against Manchester City on Wednesday night (28 December).
The 3-1 loss at Elland Road was far from unexpected given the firepower that Pep Guardiola’s side have at their disposal, and the side they leapfrogged to return to second in the table won’t provide a much easier task for Jesse Marsch.
Eddie Howe’s men easily brushed aside Leicester on Boxing Day with a 3-0 victory, but in his Sky Sports Super6 predictions Stelling believes it will be a much closer affair when Leeds United visit the North-East.
He has gone for 2-1 home win, which would see the Whites left without points in three and staring at another relegation battle.
Games against Tottenham, Manchester City, and Newcastle either side of the World Cup break wouldn’t be expected to produce a major haul of points from many teams this season.
And yet Leeds could easily have taken something from the 4-3 defeat at Spurs, and Pascal Struijk’s header at Elland Road against City briefly suggested a comeback.
If Stelling is accurate and Marsch’s men are able to run Newcastle far closer than most have this year then it would be another encouraging sign that this side has plenty of ability.
But the league table won’t look any better for it, and valiant defeats won’t keep United fans warm when a second successive battle against the drop looks on the cards.
The run of fixtures following the Magpies game, starting with fellow strugglers West Ham on 4 January, are of much greater importance and badly need to produce some more positive results, or the worries that surrounded the club prior to the victories over Liverpool and Bournemouth will be back in a big way.
If the defence could avoid their maddening tendency to shoot themselves in the foot with such regularity it would be a major help in that regard, and January arrivals could be what’s required to deal with that.
In other Leeds United news, the club are already taking action to strengthen the defence ahead of the winter window.