Steve Bruce emerges relatively unscathed after Allan Saint-Maximin earns Newcastle a draw with Leeds

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Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park - Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park - Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
  • Planned, mass protest was not forthcoming

  • Raphinha strikes early to put visitors ahead

  • French talisman scores stunning, solo equaliser

This was not what anyone expected. There was no evidence Steve Bruce had lost the support of his players – as had been suggested on Tyneside this week – and no sign of the mass protests that might have caused him to lose his job either.

It was a little, well, anti-climactic, given the dire warnings on social media of an angry, seething fan base that would descend on the stadium to pour poison, creating an atmosphere so toxic that it would leave him no choice to quit.

There was hostility and there were chants calling for him to go, but they were intermittent and faded as Newcastle grew into the game and arguably were the better side for an hour.

Other managers have received far worse than this and carried on as usual. A reminder that the loudest voices do not speak for everyone, as much as they would like to convince you otherwise.

As the fans drifted out of the stadium, resentment remained. The situation is volatile, but it is not combustible enough to burn anything down.

Had Newcastle lost, things would have turned nasty. Emotions are running high and the hostility towards Bruce will not disappear, but the team did not play badly in the defeat by Manchester United last Saturday and did not do so again here.

It was a decent point, nothing more than that, but given that the message coming from the United hierarchy was that even a defeat would not have led to them sacking Bruce, a draw certainly will not.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action with Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin - REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action with Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin - REUTERS/Scott Heppell

Bruce is an unpopular manager and always has been at Newcastle, but he remains popular in the dressing room, something his star player, Allan Saint-Maximin, who scored the equaliser, was keen to stress in his post-match interviews.

“We have to stay together,” he told Sky Sports. “To be honest, I really love Steve Bruce. For every manager it is difficult, you have good times and bad times, but we’re together and will stay together. I always try to do my best for him.”

It was the type of public show of support that matters when a manager is under pressure as Bruce is.

“I have never thought the players have stopped playing for me,” said Bruce. “Not once, and they gave me everything again this evening in difficult circumstances when we went a goal down early on.

“The game could have gone either way, I thought we had the better chances but in the first 20 minutes we found it very difficult. But we need a win, I will be judged on results.

“I can’t say it was not difficult [hearing the chants for him to go] but the way they were towards the team, and the atmosphere they created, I’m not going to walk away from the fight. I will try and keep out the noise.”

Once more there were things to criticise in Newcastle’s performance. The defence was shaky, captain Jamaal Lascelles has lost his composure at centre-back, and Leeds were a constant threat on the counter, especially in the first half.

Karl Darlow of Newcastle United dives but fails to save as Raphinha of Leeds United scores - Stu Forster/Getty Images
Karl Darlow of Newcastle United dives but fails to save as Raphinha of Leeds United scores - Stu Forster/Getty Images

Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa, though, was probably pushing it a bit far to argue they dominated the game. Despite seeing more of the ball, they did not create much unless it was in transition.

There were 38 shots on goal, Leeds had 21 of them but only nine on target.

The goal they scored was a fluke, too, Raphinha’s cross going through the legs of Rodrigo, who had escaped the attention of Lascelles, before bouncing inside the far post. It was such a soft goal and a disastrous start for the home side.

Newcastle could have buckled then, and the mood did darken as the anti-Bruce chants became louder and more widespread, but with the team improving on the pitch, they faded again.

Newcastle should have been level long before Saint-Maximin scored in the last minute of the first half.

The French winger terrorised Leeds captain Liam Cooper all night and when he got one-on-one with the full-back for the first time he left him easily, pulling the ball back for Miguel Almiron.

The Paraguay international would have scored if he had made a proper connection with his shot, but Joelinton definitely should when his scuffed effort arrived in front of him, six yards out.

The Brazilian’s play outside of the penalty box has improved, but his finishing has not and he hit a weak shot straight at goalkeeper Illan Meslier who saved with his feet.

Newcastle United vs Leeds United, Premier League: live score and latest updates - Owen Humphreys/PA
Newcastle United vs Leeds United, Premier League: live score and latest updates - Owen Humphreys/PA

Moments later, Matt Ritchie’s deflected shot came back off the inside of the post. It raised spirits and the Newcastle fans started to encourage rather than chastise.

Leeds, who were forced to play Luke Ayling at centre-back because of injuries and suspensions, could not hold on to the lead.

Joelinton raced down the left and reached the bye-line before pulling the ball back to Saint-Maximin on the edge of the area. Saint-Maximin drifted across the defence to make room for a shot into the bottom corner.

Leeds wasted a brilliant chance in first-half stoppage time when Raphinha took too long to shoot and had his effort blocked before Junior Firpo blasted the follow-up over.

That was as close as the visitors came to another goal, but Newcastle had chances. Saint-Maximin forced a good save from Meslier at his near post, Joelinton tried to pass when he had a clear shot on goal before Saint-Maximin ignored unmarked teammates in better shooting positions and was denied again by Meslier.

A draw seemed a fair enough outcome, even if it feels like an inconclusive end to another difficult week for Bruce.

09:02 PM

Opta's post-match stats pack

● Newcastle remain winless in the Premier League this season (P5 W0 D2 L3); it's the fourth time in their last seven Premier League campaigns that they have failed to win any of their opening five matches of a season (also 2014-15, 2015-16 & 2018-19).

● Leeds have failed to win each of their opening five games of a league season for the first time since 1985-86 in the second tier, and only the third time in their top-flight history, having only previously done so in 1935-36 and 1946-47.

● Leeds have failed to win a Premier League game in which they opened the scoring for the first time since losing 2-1 to West Ham in December 2020, ending a 12-game winning streak in the league when scoring first.

● In what is his 14th season as a Premier League manager, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce has seen his side fail to win any of their opening five matches of a campaign in the competition for the very first time.

● Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin has scored in consecutive Premier League matches at St. James' Park, scoring as many goals as he netted in his first 30 home games for the club beforehand (two).

● Since his first start for Leeds in the Premier League in November of last season, only four players have scored or assisted more non-penalty goals in the competition than Raphinha (17 - 8 goals, 9 assists).

● Four of Raphinha's eight Premier League goals for Leeds have come from outside the box; since his first start in the competition last November, no player has scored more times from outside the area (level with Son Heung-Min and Matheus Pereira).

● Crysencio Summerville (19y 322d) became the first teenager to make his Premier League debut for Leeds United since Scott Carson in January 2004 (18y 150d), and first outfield teenager to do so since Aaron Lennon in August 2003 (16y 129d).

● Leeds’ Crysencio Summerville (19y 322d) was the first teenage player to make a top-flight league appearance under manager Marcelo Bielsa since Boubakary Soumaré for Lille in November 2017 (18y 263d).

08:57 PM

Full time Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

A hugely entertaining Friday night match. Still no wins for either but a well-earned point each and signs of better form and promise from both.

08:56 PM

90+4 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Foul on Rodrigo by Longstaff on halfway. Leeds take it short and pass it around until Firpo gets down the left and whips over a cross through the six-yard box that Bamford can't get to before Clark. Summerville, in the last seconds, pounces on the clearance but whips the cross from the left out of play.

08:53 PM

90+2 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Leeds attack down the right but some of the urgency has gone. A point and a decent performance may suffice.

08:52 PM

90 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Four minutes of stoppage time to come - Saint-Maximin is Sky's man of the match. No dissension here.

08:51 PM

89 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Phillips moves to centre-half. Firpo concedes a free-kick on halfway with a rugby tackle on Fraser. He's already been booked but is let off another. Murphy replaces Willock.

08:50 PM

88 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Meslier claims the corner. Leeds move the ball upfield slickly and but Klich's left-foot shot to cap the move is clipped straight at Darlow. Ayling has to depart. Shackleton replaces him.

08:48 PM

87 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Ayling comes back on and Leeds attack with Roberts but Longstaff picks off the pass up to Bamford. Leeds mop it up but Ayling looks lame and they have to concede a corner.

08:46 PM

86 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Lengthy delay while Ayling receives treatment on his left knee.

08:45 PM

84 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Meslier saves Ayling's bacon after a weak header lets Saint-Maximin gobble it up and hare towards goal. He thumps a left-foot shot on the run but Meslier gets his angles right to block low to his left.

08:43 PM

83 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Ayling blocks Clark's shot/cross from the launched free-kick. Lascelles heads wide, not from the corner but the second ball back in after an inadequate Leeds' clearance.

08:42 PM

81 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Off goes Manquillo - Krafth replaces him at right-back.

08:41 PM

80 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Firpo is booked for hauling down Willock on halfway.

08:40 PM

79 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Manquillo and Bamford require treatment after Clark wins the ball and takes both of them out. Dean finally lets the trainers on after Joelinton messes up the Newcastle break by passing it straight to Klich instead of Saint-Maximin.

08:38 PM

77 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Rodrigo spins in the D to shoot with his left after collecting Roberts' pass from the right but he slips and there's no power in his pea-roller.

08:37 PM

76 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Ritchie berates Bamford for going down in the box as he tries in vain to reach Phillips' scoop.

08:36 PM

75 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Saint-Maximin spears a left-foot shot straight at Meslier from 18 yards as he once again dribbled horizontally.

08:34 PM

74 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Rodrigi picks out Bamford again with a ball from the right that the centre-forward hits first time and hammers into the hoardings.

08:33 PM

73 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Bamford misses a fine chance with his right foot when Cooper robs Saint-Maximin and sends Rodrigo off upfield and the Spain forward splits Lascelles and Clark with a lovely pass. Bamford is all left foot and makes a mess of his right-foot finish, prodding it harmlessly straight at Darlow from 16 yards.

08:32 PM

72 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Joelinton goes sprawling in the box after a fair and excellent challenge by Ayling. Leeds break but Roberts' pass is a yard ahead of where Bamford wanted it.

08:31 PM

71 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Longstaff shoots on the half-volley from 25 yards after Firpo's header sits up invitingly but he clears the bar by 10 yards.

08:29 PM

69 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Roberts whips over a cross from the right after playing a give and go with Klich. For a second it seems as if it might dip under the bar but Darlow can breathe again.

08:28 PM

67 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Crysencio Summerville is on for his long-awaited Premier League debut for Leeds, replacing Raphinha.

08:26 PM

66 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Longstaff boots Firpo on the head - no booking. What a ridiculous decision. If that isn't reckless, what is?

08:25 PM

65 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Roberts knocks a pass too long round the corner down the inside-left channel and Raphinha has no chance of reaching it.

08:24 PM

64 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Leeds corner on the right after Rodrigo's run was stopped by Clark's intervention and Longstaff boots the near-post centre out for a throw.

08:23 PM

62 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Leeds substitution: Roberts replaces James. And for Newcastle Fraser comes on for Almiron.

08:22 PM

61 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Klich shoots from 20 yards after good work from Firpo and a one-two with James. Klich's daisy-cutter is picked up by Darlow as Raphinha gives Klich a telling off for not passing to him to his right.

08:20 PM

59 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Saint-Maximin cuts on to his right from the left and when his shot is blocked, thunders a left-foot one that Meslier has to turn behind. The keeper then catches a tame header from the corner.

08:19 PM

57 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Rodrigo is booked for wrapping his arm round the waist of Hayden, who was skipping ahead of him. Toon free-kick 35 yards out that Ritchie dinks over the defence and into touch.

08:17 PM

56 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Newcastle fans protest when Mike Dean gets in Willock's way when he was trying to run on to a breaking ball to shoot from 25 yards. Dean, like the grass, won't pay no mind.

08:16 PM

54 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Darlow races foolishly off his line when Raphinha counters at pace but his defenders get him out of jail by flooding back on to the goal-line. Then Darlow claws away a Lascelles header that was creeping under the bar as he tried to deal with James' cross.

08:14 PM

52 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Junior Firpo goes through Almiron on halfway. Joelinton fouls Dallas when the ball is hoofed into the box and Leeds break.

08:12 PM

50 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Hayden chops down Bamford just inside the Newcastle half and Leeds have free-kick they send down the right. Dallas arcs a 30-yard ball over to the back post where James meets it on the volley with his right but cuffs it the wrong side of the post.

08:10 PM

49 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Raphinha heads infield from the right and tries an early shot with Ritchie backing off, smearing it with the outside of his left foot but Darlow gets down to gather. James delays a pass too long and Klich is caught offside down the left. All Leeds again at the start of the half.

08:08 PM

48 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Ayling bounds out of defence into the Newcastle half to send Dallas down the right but his misplaced pass is picked off but the pass forward from Newcaste hits the referee and he stops the game for a one-sided/uncontested drop-ball.

08:06 PM

46 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

The replays of Willock's 'foul' on James at half-time suggest it should have been a penalty, as both Carragher and Neville thought when it happened.

07:54 PM

Breathtaking match

Leeds have been sensational going forward but profligate with their shooting and heading. Newcastle, driven by the wonderful Saint-Maximin, a truly joyful player, have been terrific on the break. Both defences are not in the same class. Like Graham Gooch once said of facing New Zealand with Sir Richard Hadlee - World XI at one end, Ilford Seconds at the other.

07:52 PM

Half-time Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

What a miss from Junior Firpo on the stroke of half-time after a penalty box strewn with bodies like the end of Platoon after first Raphinha's and then James's shot is blocked. The ball breaks to Firpo, six yards out to the left of goal and he ballooned it over the bar. And Mike Dean blows his whistle for half-time. All three could have/should have scored.

07:50 PM

45+3 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

For all Leeds' possession and strikes Newcastle look truly menacing on the break.

07:49 PM

45+2 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Three minutes of stoppage time are signalled by the fourth official.

07:47 PM

45 min Newcastle 1 Leeds 1

Terrific composure and finish to wait and wait as he dribbled from left to right across the 18-yard line as Leeds' defenders threw themselve sin vain, buying his dummies, until he was ready to shoot from the right of the D and slotted it past Meslier.

07:46 PM


Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 (Saint-Maximin)

07:45 PM

44 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Saint-Maximin beats Cooper again who is left on the deck but his cross is woeful. Almiron tries to shoot when Dallas and Ayling work the ball out of the Leeds box clumsily but it's more of a backpass and Meslier flops on to it.

07:43 PM

43 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Newcastle have switched to a back four and thrust Hayden into midfield. Ritchie has been having animated discussions with the manager who could be forgiven for shaking his centre-backs at half-time to wake them up.

07:42 PM

41 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Almiron tries to buy a free-kick with a dive and is booked for protesting when he isn't given one.

Rollicking game this. Who's the C0ck of the North?

07:40 PM

39 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Leeds break with alacrity from the Newcastle corner, Raphinha storms down the right and whips over a left-foot inswinger that Rodrigo miscontrols which means he can't get his shot away before he runs out of pitch.

07:39 PM

37 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Brilliant save from Meslier again to get his fingertips to Ritchie's rasping 20-yard shot to scratch it on to the post and Leeds hack the ball behind for a corner. Had he trimmed his finger nails that would have been in.

07:37 PM

35 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Rodrigo with the defence-splitting pass to James who switches to the other flank for Raphinha and he rolls the pass in from the right to Klich by the D to shoot. He aims for the bottom left and Darlow does well to get down to save it and cling on as Bamford was poised to pounce.

07:36 PM

33 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Phillips fouls Saint-Maximin 30 yards put but Leeds defend the cross from the free-kick competently and counter at pace.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action with Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin - REUTERS/Scott Heppell
Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action with Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin - REUTERS/Scott Heppell

07:34 PM

31 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Saint-Maximin roasts Cooper again. Firpo needs to give him a hand. But Phillips was back to snuff out the danger at the near post when AS-M centred it. Willock then smashed a shot miles over when Leeds didn't clear their lines quickly enough.

07:31 PM

29 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Rodrigo, who has been very lively tonight, is played down the inside-right channel by Bamford. He stops, faces up Lascelles then bends a left-foot pass to Phillips 20 yards out and the midfielder connects crisply with his shot but hammers it into the hoardings. Six inches past the post. Metric martyrs are we on football blogs.

07:29 PM

26 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Leeds carve through the middle of Newcastle's midfield with Bamford dropping deep to send a pass down the inside-left for Rodrigo and he whistles a shot from 18 yards past the post. Moments earlier Leeds could have had a penalty when Willock threw his leg across James and trod on his foot as the winger dribbled into the box. Mike Riley ... you know the rest if you support Leeds.

07:28 PM

24 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

What a save from Meslier and what a miss from Joelinton. He was teed up by a fantastic, uncatchable spurt from Saint-Maximin who left Cooper for dead then centred it. Almiron miskicked instead of shooting but teed up Joelinton perfectly but his right foot shot was blocked by a spreadeagled Meslier from 10 yards with his heel.

07:26 PM

22 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Couple of decent chances for Newcastle, the first for Almiron set up by Ritchie's great cross but he spears a shot wide of the right post, bending it but not getting the curl back in, the second for Willock who seems to think he has all day to shoot but James disabuses him of that and whips it away in the box 14 yards out.

07:23 PM

20 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Leeds corner after a vital tackle from Ritchie to stop Raphinha. He takes it and it sails over to the left. Leeds knock it back in and Bamford's header is clawed away ... to Raphinha who shoots from the right with his left. It's blocked but time seems to stand still for Newcastle as Raphinha storms in for the rebound despite being surrounded by defenders and only Clark, at the last second, decides to do something and toes it away.

07:20 PM

17 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Klich takes Raphinha's pass from the right at the edge of the area, drops his shoulder and sweeps a right-foot shot with his instep too close to Darlow.

Looking at the goal replay again Lascelles was dozing and more culpable than Darlow in tracking and reading Rodrigo's intentions.

07:18 PM

15 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

Raphinha almost debags Joelinton by holding on to his shorts to prevent him running away. No booking which was very odd.

07:16 PM

13 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 1

It was a cross, swinging in with his left from wide right, 25 yards out. Rodrigo ran across the keeper, diddled Darlow with a jump over the ball, the cutest of dummies and it crept in at the back post.

07:14 PM


Newcastle 0-1 Leeds (Raphinha)

07:14 PM

13 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Good work from Rodrigo to sprint down the inside left and gather Firpo's deflected pass. He gallops into the box and pulls the pass back for Bamford but it's just behind him and Raphinha slides in to shoot at the keeper.

07:12 PM

11 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Rodrigo hits the deck when Hayden barges into him from behind 20 yards out but Mike Dean is unmoved. Rodrigo had just trapped it on his chest.

Firpo breaks down the left and whips over an outswinger that arcs away from goal and Raphinha who was busting a git to hit the back-post

07:10 PM

9 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Yellow card for Ritchie for clothes-lining Raphinha as he turned on the afterburners to stride clear down the right.

07:08 PM

8 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Leeds make a mess of the clearance and allow Saint-Maximin to face up Ayling, dragged out wide and then sends Ritchie down to the byline. He whips over a low cross but Meslier dives forward to smother easily with no Newcastle forward haring towards goal to feed off the scraps.

07:07 PM

6 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Saint-Maximin is sticking to Phillips when Leeds have the ball. Almiron bursts down the right on to a loose ball and Klich hauls him back just on halfway. Free-kick.

07:05 PM

4 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Leeds hogging possession. Raphinha chips it down the right. Klich steals away from Lascelles and nonchalantly flicks it back with his heel first time to Bamford who takes a touch with his chest and hooks his volley into the crowd.

07:03 PM

3 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Cooper with another long, high pass up the left which James, this time, reaches, but with the crown of his head and he knocks it out for another throw down by the corner flag.

07:02 PM

2 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

Leeds have lined up with a back four and sweep the ball between the four defenders before Ayling chips a long diagonal out to the right which is too high for James to win while leaping on the whitewash. Toon throw.

07:01 PM

1 min Newcastle 0 Leeds 0

After the usual Mark Knopfler (Mark Knobbler as Mel Smith always called him in one of those Two Heads sketches 30 years ago) the players take a knee and Leeds kick off, attacking from left to right.

06:58 PM

Leeds are wearing their third strip

It's Lilac Time.

06:51 PM

Kalvin Phillips

Has just been interviewed and feted as a player and exemplary human being by Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher. He says he will play in a back three if Newcastle play two central strikers, in front of a back four if they go with one.

06:49 PM

Coiff on the Tyne

Bold haircuts - Stu Forster/Getty Images
Bold haircuts - Stu Forster/Getty Images

06:43 PM

Jack Harrison confirms he has Covid

06:41 PM

Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville

Had a tea-time sit down with four Newcastle fans - from NUST, podcasts etc - five bottles of dog on the table (Gary eschewing the Broon) and all were articulate on their disdain for Bruce and despair at Ashley. It's so disheartening and yet, they say, as soon as they climb the stairs and catch a glimpse of that postage stamp of green amid the concrete and steel, there is still that old spark.

06:33 PM

Tonight's protest news

@ProtestNUFC have released a statement saying how and why they are protesting against the Premier League's blocking of the sale of the club to a Saudi-backed consortium.

Before the game we’ll be highlighting our displeasure with banners, drums, and anti-PL chants. We’ll be distributing flyers throughout the East Stand for fans to hold up for the TVcameras which send a message directly to the PL. Given the scenes at Soccer Aid and Wembley recently we’ve also included some instructions to make a fairly decent paper plane – quite literally flyers!

06:20 PM

Steve Bruce speaks

The one thing you need as a football manager is results.

The frustration is obviously evident, but a result or two puts that to sleep for a while.

I was delighted with the way we played at Old Trafford last week for an hour. It didn’t quite happen, but we’ve got to repeat that today and hopefully we’ll get a result.

06:15 PM

Those teams in black and white

Newcastle United Darlow; Manquillo, Clark, Lascelles, Hayden, Ritchie; Almiron, Longstaff, Willock, Joelinton; Saint-Maximin.
Substitutes Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Fernandez, Fraser, Murphy, Gayle.

Leeds United Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Firpo; Phillips; Raphinha, Klich, Rodrigo, James; Bamford.
Substitutes Klaesson, Cresswell, Shackleton, Summerville, Greenwood, Roberts, McCarron, McKinstry, Kenneh.

Referee Mike Dean (The Wirral)

06:10 PM


Newcastle, presumably sticking to 5-4-1 with Saint-Maximin through the middle and Joelinton on the left rather than 5-3-2; Leeds is harder to predict, three at the back as Marcelo Bielsa tends to opt for against a team playing two strikers, in which case are Dallas and James wing-backs with Firpo in the middle or is it four with Dallas at right-back with Ayling at centre-half, then the typical 4-1-4-1? Hmmm ...

06:03 PM

Two changes for Leeds

Klich and James for Harrison and Llorente:

06:01 PM

One change for Newcastle

and it is in goal:

05:13 PM

Good evening

Only a point separates Newcastle United and Leeds United, who did the double over them last season for the first time in 35 years, in 19th and 17th place respectively after four games but, at least before tonight's match is settled, there is an ocean between them in outlook. Leeds fans know only too well what years of drift and neglect feels like, suffering a descent from frying pan to fire to Inferno under successive ownerships from 2004-17.

It was as if the club had been taken hostage and Newcastle fans have endured it almost as long since the heady days of liberation from the Hall/Shepherd tuned sour so quickly and Kevin Keegan, left, constructively dismissed, when he felt his integrity was being threatened.

And since then, what? “Sitting here in limbo,” sang Jimmy Cliff, “like a bird ain’t got a song.” St James' tonight gives the fans another opportunity to use their voices again and protest about the state of the club and the team which, a majority of them feel is being mismanaged by Steve Bruce, whose caution and tactical expediency they would find hard to stomach even if they were picking up points.

While some may have sympathy for the circumstances he finds himself in, his ambition to manage his boyhood club and sense of duty drowning out the shrillest of alarm bells over the reasons for Rafa Benitez's departure, the sense that he cannot make the most of his resources, particularly Sean Longstaff who should have kicked on towards international honours by now given his skills, is extensive. His pride and professionalism summons up his stubborn blood. He will carry on until the end but at what price to himself? How much longer can he stomach this mutinous, leaky dressing-room. If Ashley will not give him what he needs to do the job as best he can, there can be no winning the crowd over, only a state of siege that can only be relieved temporarily by the odd favourable result.

Sean Longstaff - Ian MacNicol/Getty Images
Sean Longstaff - Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

That is not to say a Newcastle victory is unlikely tonight. As the supporters daily point out, they have some very good players and Leeds United, after losing only once in their final 11 games of the 2020-21 season, just haven't clicked this season so far, playing well in patches in the draws with Everton and Burnley, threatening momentarily against Manchester United and Liverpool before being overwhelmed.

With Pascal Struijk suspended following Craig Pawson's astonishing brass neck in maintaining that he had always intended to send him off for his part in Harvey Elliott's injury despite the evidence of our own eyes, Robin Koch and Diego Llorenete injured, Leeds are light in defence and will have to shift Luke Ayling, struggling for form, inside or give 19-year-old Charlie Cresswell his Premier League debut. It has been rumoured all day that Jack Harrison is out of the game and Raphinha is struggling to overcome a thigh injury but the latter has been spotted in the travelling party on Tyneside this afternoon.

Callum Wilson, Jonjo Shelvey and Martin Dubravka are still missing for Newcastle. Jacob Murphy, who might have expected to come in as a more attacking option at right wing-back, now might find it hard to displace Javier Manquillo after his galloping goal at Old Trafford. There should be a change in goal, though, with Karl Darlow replacing Freddie Woodman who was all over the shop last Saturday.

Join us for the team news at 7pm.

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