Following a great win over 2nd placed Brighton earlier this week, Newcastle are now set to face Huddersfield town, the team currently sitting in 3rd place in the Sky Bet Championship, which is live on Sky Sports 1 at 5:30pm.
As many of you will remember, when Huddersfield Town came to St James’ Park on just the second match day of the season, they caused quite the upset. Nahki Wells opened the scoring just before the end of the first half. They held their lead until Newcastle were awarded a penalty in the 60th minute, which was initially saved, but followed up on the rebound by a Dwight Gayle header. The game however, finished 2-1 to the away team, as Jack Payne scored the winner in the 82nd minute. At such an early stage in the season, it was difficult to assess how well teams were going to do, and this is a clear example of how Newcastle’s poor start to the season may not have been as bad as first thought, as Huddersfield have ended up in the play offs, and still have a chance to move into the top 2, which shows they clearly have a strong squad which is used to life in the second division.
Huddersfield’s recent form is good, having managed 16 points from a possible 18 in their last six games, only being held up most recently by Barnsley in a 1-1 draw. Those last 6 games also include wins over Brighton and Reading, in a 3-1 and a 1-0 win respectively.
Having said this, Newcastle’s form over the last six games has brought them 14 points from a possible 18, and they remain unbeaten in the Championship since the beginning of the year, in 9 matches, when they were unfortunately beaten away from home against Blackburn Rovers.
United have a point to prove. They will feel to the need to prevent Huddersfield doing the double over them, as well as wanting to maintain their unbeaten run, and also separating themselves from the chasing pack, which they have significantly helped by beating Brighton.
It is yet to be decided whether Newcastle will have the services of their top goal scorer Dwight Gayle, however Newcastle have still scored plenty of goals without him throughout the time that he has been injured. I would expect Murphy to be given his chance in the starting line-up as Yoan Gouffran failed to score against Brighton, however did look lively throughout the game.
If Newcastle were to either win or draw this game, they would sit comfortably on 76 points or 74 points respectively, however a draw for Newcastle and a win for Brighton would leave the top 2 level on points, but Newcastle would remain on top on goal difference, unless of course Brighton were to become Bayern Munich for 90 minutes and pull out a 9-0 thrashing over their opposition. Huddersfield will remain in 3rd position no matter the outcome of any of the other games in the league, as a win for Leeds United would put them a point behind third place.
I do feel that Newcastle will come out as victors of this match, however, a loss would mean that Huddersfield would move up to just 5 points behind Newcastle, with an extra game in hand over the other teams at the top of the table.
If the boys manage to get a further 3 points from this game, and maybe even from Reading as well, they deserve the biggest welcome back to St James’ Park they’ve ever had! Howay the lads!