Yoshinori Muto

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Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v. Chelsea

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Chelsea visits surprising Newcastle United in a marquee match Saturday at St. James’ Park (Watch Live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The hosts have scrapped their way to 26 points, five points both clear of the drop zone and back of seventh place. A draw at Wolves last weekend snapped a three-match league losing streak.

Chelsea maintains a five-point gap over Manchester United in its bid to claim a Top Four place, with the Red Devils meeting unbeaten Liverpool this week. The Blues are seeking back-to-back league wins for the first time since Nov. 9.

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Newcastle has had a fair bit of success against the big boys this season, beating Manchester United and Spurs while drawing Man City.

Christian Pulisic stole the ball en route to Marcos Alonso‘s late goal in a 1-0 win when the two sides met at Stamford Bridge in October.

Pulisic, of course, is still out injured for Chelsea and Lampard says the American could return near the club’s February break. Newcastle has electric winger Allan Saint-Maximin back in the fold after more than a month on the sidelines. Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey are also available.


Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle United: OUT — Paul Dummett, Dwight Gayle, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems, Javi Manquillo. QUESTIONABLE — DeAndre Yedlin, Yoshinori Muto.

Chelsea: OUT — Ruben Loftus-Cheek, N’Golo Kante, Pulisic. QUESTIONABLE — Marcos Alonso.


Probable lineups

Newcastle United: Dubravka; Willems, Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Ritchie; Hayden, Shelvey; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Almiron.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, James; Jorginho, Willian, Mount, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi; Abraham.


What they’re saying

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce on his meeting with owner Mike Ashley: “It went very well. We showed what we are trying to do, and he was fully supportive. We have plates spinning and hope to add to the squad by the end of the month. We have said that the targets have to improve us. He has been fully supportive of the remit. He agrees we buy quality not quantity. That has to be the mantra.”

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on Newcastle’s many injuries: “It is still an opportunity, but this is vital. Every game brings challenges, going to Newcastle, the emotion of the crowd and they are an organized side. We won’t take it lightly. We have to take every game head-on. We don’t underestimate there. Bournemouth were down to the bare bones and we lost, it can bring out a different feeling. They have done very well and I don’t look at the bare bones.


Prediction

St. James’ Park has been a tough place to play, but the Blues shake off any travel to collect a 2-1 win over the Magpies.

Wood goal helps Burnley beat Newcastle, end mini-skid

Chris Wood Burnley
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Burnley got a little bit of luck and a finish from its big striker in a 1-0 win over Newcastle United on Saturday at Turf Moorr, ending a three-match losing streak in the process.

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Chris Wood scored after a controversially-awarded corner, as the Clarets moved 12th on 21 points. That’s a point behind their Saturday visitors.


Three things we learned

1. Lucky Clarets cash in: Those who hate VAR and like a good old fashioned ref error that can’t be fixed by review will be loving this one. Burnley had little-to-nothing going for nearly an hour, but were given a corner when Federico Fernandez was shoved on the touch line and no whistle arrived to aid the center back. Ashley Westwood swept a corner over a sea of players and Kiwi star Wood rose to plant the ball in the goal at the back post.

2. Newcastle’s luck runs out: The Magpies entered this match on a 4-1-1 run and were beginning to entertain Top Seven ideas, but advanced stats said they had been quite lucky all season long. The misfortune of a call against Fernandez won’t sit well with Geordies, but perhaps there’s some comfort in knowing most calls had been going for Steve Bruce‘s men.

3. Gayle miss shows lack of depth: An injury to Allan Saint-Maximin was always going to be a problem for Steve Bruce, but minor injuries kept red-hot Jonjo Shelvey and lively-but-unconfident Miguel Almiron out of the team as well. Christian Atsu and Joelinton were far from clinical out wide, and Bruce turned to Dwight Gayle and Yoshinori Muto off the bench. Gayle had one on a plate from Joelinton but fired wide on a chance which really should’ve provided a deserved point.

Man of the Match: James Tarkowski — The center back had his hands full and feet sore with the physical duo of Andy Carroll and Joelinton, but held firm in helping Burnley keep another zero on the board.


Andy Carroll captained the team and had the game’s first chance when he headed an inviting corner just wide of the frame.

Burnley’s Dwight McNeil forced Martin Dubravka into a save and a lively Isaac Hayden tore into a shot from 30 yards that sailed over the Clarets’ bar.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Burnley went ahead on a corner that should’ve been a goal kick, but that doesn’t excuse an error from usually strong Martin Dubravka that allowed Wood to prod home at the back post.

Dubravka made amends when Sean Longstaff gave the ball to Cork in the middle of the park and dribbled himself into a 1v1 with the keeper.

Substitute Gayle butchered a chance to make it 1-1 when Joelinton bodied up Erik Pieters off a through ball from Carroll and sent the Englishman to the top of the six.

Saint-Maximin absence to ask more of struggling Almiron, Joelinton

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Newcastle United lightning bolt Allan Saint-Maximin is going to miss a month with a hamstring injury suffered late in the Magpies’ 2-1 defeat of Southampton at St. James’ Park.

The ebullient Saint-Maximin played deep into the match despite a minor injury, and was on of the main reasons Newcastle won. He helped set up the winning goal, but left the stadium on crutches.

That left Steve Bruce questioning his decision to keep “ASM” in the match.

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Now the electric Frenchman is set to miss fixtures against Burnley, Crystal Palace, Manchester United, Everton, Leicester City, and an FA Cup third round match versus either Boston United or Rochdale.

Saint-Maximin’s absence will hurt Newcastle all-around, but especially when its counter-attack tries to take down bigger sides. His 4.5 dribbles per match makes him one of just three players in the Premier League with more than 3.1 (Adama Traore and Wilfried Zaha).

Ultimately, though, this could provide struggling Joelinton more looks at performing on the wing opposite of Miguel Almiron. The Brazilian will have to work center forward at times as Andy Carroll certainly can’t go every game, and Dwight Gayle, Christian Atsu, and Yoshinori Muto could also be asked to play prominent roles.

And, of course, this will demand much more from industrious but sloppy Miguel Almiron, whose expected goal total is 2.5 (he has zero).

PL preview: Arsenal-Brighton; Blades-Newcastle

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The Premier League’s midweek fixture list has two more on the docket, with mid-table positioning at play in South Yorkshire and London.

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Both host sides can advance into sixth with wins, while the visitors will also be dreaming of the top half of the table.

Arsenal v. Brighton and Hove Albion — 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Freddie Ljungberg will have his hands full at home, as Graham Potter‘s Seagulls have been anything but a walkover even in a three-match losing skid versus Manchester United, Leicester City, and Liverpool.

Arsenal, meanwhile, saw its winless run reach eight matches in all competitions with a weekend draw at Norwich City. The Gunners only outshot the Canaries by a 16-15 margin, something that will have Potter daydreaming of ways to break down the sloppy Arsenal defense.

Will Ljungberg finally start Nicolas Pepe?

“Nico is someone who is a very, very good player but sometimes when you come from a different league it takes time to adapt; off the pitch and on the pitch. But Nico is someone I plan on talking to. I’m going to have a little chat with him about what I expect and how I want to play.”

Sounds like no, which is good news for Brighton. #FreeNicolasPepe.

Sheffield United v. Newcastle United — 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold

Chris Wilder‘s remarkable Blades haven’t lost since September, and will like their chances against a Newcastle side which likes to cede possession.

The Magpies are coming off a remarkable 2-2 draw against Man City, though don’t expect Steve Bruce to keep things the same. He has hinted he’ll ring in the changes and trust his squad depth, with Florian Lejeune, Emil Krafth, and Yoshinori Muto among those tipped for opportunity.

“We are going to have to,” Bruce said. “When you look at the games it is a ridiculous schedule. We will have to adapt and need a bit of freshness.”

Newcastle can join its hosts on 19 points with a win, but would likely accept a draw to take them three points clear of 18th place Everton.

Leicester hammer 10-man Newcastle

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“We’re all going on a European tour” sang the Leicester City fans at the King Power Stadium on Sunday, and they could well be right.

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Brendan Rodgers‘ side won 5-0 against 10-man Newcastle United as they moved up to third in the Premier League table.

Jamie Vardy scored twice, while Ricardo Pereira and Wilfried Ndidi were also on target as Dennis Praet‘s effort later went down as a Paul Dummett own goal.

Issac Hayden was shown a straight red card just before half time to make it a tough outing in an even tougher season for Steve Bruce‘s Newcastle.

Leicester have 14 points from seven games, while Newcastle have five points.


3 things we learned

1. Leicester ready for the top six: Fans of the Foxes were singing about Europe on Sunday and you can see why. Rodgers’ young side have so many attacking options, and even without James Maddison they ripped Newcastle apart. They are balanced, defend well, win the midfield battle and have class on the ball to hurt teams in attack. As long as the majority of their squad stays fit, they will be in the top six all season long. The blend between youth and experience is spot on and Leicester, on paper, have players Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United will want. They could finish above those three aforementioned teams this season with Ndidi and Tielemans the unsung heroes in midfield. Next up: Liverpool away. That will be a true test as to how good this team is.

2. Newcastle in a whole lot of bother: Just one win from the first seven games of the season doesn’t tell the whole story. Newcastle have been totally devoid of attacking intent in most of their games (Joelinton and Miguel Almiron struggled again) and Steve Bruce has a huge job on his hands to turn this ship around. Despite talk of a new takeover bid led by Peter Kenyon, optimism levels among Newcastle’s fans are not high for this season. The red card didn’t help them at all, but it didn’t alter the likely outcome of this game. Newcastle will be in a relegation scrap all season long and their brilliant fans will have to suffer once again. Next up: Games against Man United and Chelsea. Ouch.

3. Vardy is having a party: Vardy has scored 14 goals in 17 Premier League games under Brendan Rodgers and the veteran striker is leading the line superbly. He sets the tone for this squad and with so many young attackers around him, Vardy looks reborn. Rodgers allows him to operate in areas where he’s at his best and the Englishman, now 32, is key to this European push. If he stays fit and in form, Leicester will finish in the top six. If he is injured or runs out of steam, Leicester’s European dream will be in tatters because Rodgers doesn’t have a direct replacement.

Man of the Match: Jamie Vardy – Two goals and a constant menace, Vardy gave the Newcastle defense a torrid time. His runs stretch opposition defenses and his finishing is lethal. He will get plenty of service this season and he is allowed to play his natural game. With five goals in his first seven games of the campaign, Vardy is well on track for another 20-goal season in the PL.


Leicester started well as Harvey Barnes cut in from the left and crossed for Perez but the former Newcastle striker saw his instinctive effort saved by Martin Dubravka.

At the other end Newcastle had a few chances on the break and Issac Hayden’s shot across goal could have been diverted goalwards by Yoshinori Muto but the Japanese striker just couldn’t quite sort his feet out.

The Foxes took the lead via a wonderful solo goal as Pereira started the move and then ran almost 30 yards with the ball before rifling home a low shot.

Moments later Leicester’s full back on the other side of the pitch, Ben Chilwell, surged forward and almost scored as Martin Dubravka smothered his effort.

Right on half time Newcastle were reduced to 10 men as Issac Hayden slid in to win a tackle but caught Dennis Praet high with his follow through, and VAR confirmed Hayden was off.

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At the start of the second half Leicester doubled their lead as a long ball played over the top found Barnes who then played in Vardy to slam home at the near post.

Moments later it was 3-0 as Praet was played in on the right and his cross deflected off Paul Dummett and in.

Vardy popped up in the box but missed his kick, while Pereira almost looped in an effort after fine work from sub Marc Albrighton as Newcastle were run ragged in the closing stages of the game.

A lovely cross from Albrighton found Vardy to head home his second and Leiceser’s fourth as the final minutes consisted of Leicester keeping the ball and Newcastle sat deep and hoping for the whistle to blow.

Ndidi scored in the 90th minute to rub extra salt in Newcastle’s wounds as the Foxes flexed their top six credentials.