The Championship continues during the week and one of the standout fixtures is Newcastle United’s trip to Barnsley. Last season, these sides were two leagues apart and the visitors will be expected to take the three points on Tuesday. However, Barnsley have dropped off in recent weeks after a strong start to life in the English second tier and will be desperate to return to winning ways.
Barnsley have been one of the most exciting teams to watch, with 43 goals coming in their opening 12 matches. This is an average of over 3.5 goals per game, which suggests that this game will be one for the neutral. They won’t change their approach against their more illustrious opposition and that could have an unsettling effect on Newcastle. Although it will be tough for the side that is currently 11th in the table, they won’t be afraid to give it a real go.
After two early losses after their relegation, Newcastle have stabilised and are already starting their assault on the league title. They are now the top scorers in the league with 25 goals in 12 matches, while their defence is strong, especially away from home. Rafa Benitez’s side have conceded just twice away from St James’ Park since the beginning of the season.
Barnsley have taken just one point from their last five matches after a good start to their season. Their defence has looked shaky, conceding 11 over that period. That is the area that needs to be worked on in training otherwise they will need miracles from their attack in order to win matches. In their last match, they lost at Oakwell to Fulham and they will be keen to bounce back as soon as possible.
Newcastle have taken an incredible 25 points from their last ten matches, showing the kind of form that would allow them to coast to the league title. They have performed at a high level and there is still belief that they will improve over the course of the season. They have by far the best goal difference in the league and it is difficult to see them not taking the top spot during the coming weeks.
I don’t expect many changes for the home side, but there are hopes that Conor Hourihane will be back to take the spot of the suspended Josh Scowen. Adam Armstrong won’t be available for the home side as he is currently on loan from Newcastle United.
Matt Ritchie is expected to come back into the starting eleven, while Aleksandar Mitrovic could also be involved after not featuring against Brentford. The rotation policy employed by Benitez could see DeAndre Yedlin and Isaac Hayden both start in Yorkshire.
Barnsley are sweating over the fitness of captain and key player Conor Hourihane, who missed the match against Fulham due to a calf strain. During that match, Josh Scowen was sent off and he will be serving the first of his three match ban on Tuesday.
The visitors will welcome back Matt Ritchie and Daryl Murphy into the squad, while Chancel Mbemba could also be involved. Jamaal Lascelles is expected to start despite failing to finish the game on Saturday. Rob Elliot remains a few weeks away from action.
Newcastle are beginning to build momentum and a trip to face an out-of-form Barnsley side should see them continue winning matches. Conor Hourihane could hold the key for the home side as he has the quality to cause Newcastle problems and it is crucial that the club captain is fit to start on Tuesday. Even if he plays, it is difficult to see how Barnsley can pick up the three points as Newcastle have been playing well recently and look unstoppable. I can’t see any result other than an away win.
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