Leeds United vs Newcastle United Predicted Lineups: Will Sam Allardyce Recall Illan Meslier?

Leeds United vs Newcastle United Predicted Lineups: Will Sam Allardyce Recall Illan Meslier?
Leeds United's Luke Ayling and Newcastle United's Joelinton during the Premier League match at St. James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne. Picture date: Saturday December 31, 2022. - Photo by Icon sport

Sam Allardyce’s first home game in charge of Leeds United is set to take place on Saturday as his side welcome Newcastle United to Elland Road. Given that there are only three games left until the end of the Premier League season and the fact that the Whites are currently three points from safety, it’s effectively a must-win game for Allardyce’s men.

If they fail to beat Newcastle then they will definitely remain in the bottom three and if other results go against them then their fate could be as good as sealed by the end of the weekend. Unfortunately for Allardyce, his side will be coming up against a formidable outfit in Newcastle who also still have something important to play for.

After losing to Arsenal last weekend, the Magpies still have work to do if they are to finish inside the top four and secure Champions League football for next season. They are currently three points clear of Liverpool in 5th but do have a game in hand on their rivals. A win at Elland Road would significantly strengthen their position as they look to bring Champions League football back to St James’ Park for the first time in 20 years.

The match is due to kick off at 12:30 UK time and viewers will be able to watch the game on BT Sport.

Leeds United Team News: Captain Cooper remains out

Sam Allardyce will once again be without club captain, Liam Cooper, for the game against Newcastle with the centre back still nursing a muscle problem. Cooper has missed large parts of the season and his team have missed dearly, shipping a large number of goals on a regular basis.

Without Cooper, Allardyce lined up with Rasmus Kristensen and Max Wober at the hearts of his defence at the Etihad Stadium last week. Although Leeds lost the game 2-1, their defensive performance was a marked improvement on the final performances under Javi Gracia and Allardyce will likely stick with the same defence for this one. It means that Robin Koch and Pascal Struijk will once again have to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

Another big defensive move that Allardyce made for the game against City was to drop Illian Meslier and bring in Joel Robles. The experienced Spanish goalkeeper had a solid game at the Etihad and he is expected to continue between the sticks against Newcastle.

Elsewhere, Luis Siniesterra, Tyler Adams and Stuart Dallas are all unavailable and won’t be seen again until next season. Given the ability of the trio, it isn’t inconceivable that all three have played their final games in a Leeds shirt.

Newcastle United Team News: Will Howe continue the Wilson-Isak experiment?

Last week against Arsenal, Eddie Howe made the bold decision of starting both Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak. The pair have predominantly rotated with one and other this season but Howe unleashed the pair in the defeat to Arsenal. Although the result didn’t go their way, the former Bournemouth manager has hinted that he may start them both together again against Leeds. He said:

“They were on the pitch together but they weren’t a partnership as such. I saw enough from Alex, who played well I thought, to know he can play in that position and I know Callum in the number nine role is an outstanding player so playing both together is something I’ll definitely consider.”

If he does drop one of them to the bench then one of Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin will return to the starting eleven on the wing. In terms of injuries, Sean Longstaff is a major doubt for the game after missing the Arsenal game while Jamaal Lascelles and Emil Krafth are out for the season.

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