Newcastle v Burnley: Magpies can pinch first win of the season

Andrew Atherley says Eddie Howe's side can come out on top in Saturday's big relegation clash...

Basement battle

Newcastle face their second crucial relegation clash of the week as they try to haul themselves off the bottom of the table.

With Eddie Howe on the sideline at St James' Park for the first time after his Covid absence, the Magpies were close to a first win of the season against Norwich on Tuesday night but had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the side immediately above them.

Howe's side battled hard for their point, having been reduced to 10 men after nine minutes when Ciaran Clark was sent off. Callum Wilson put them ahead from the penalty spot in the 61st minute before Teemu Pukki's late strike pegged them back.

With six points to make up on 17th-placed Watford, Newcastle are second favourites for relegation at 1.71.

Clark is serving a ban after his red card but Jamaal Lascelles is back from suspension to take his place in defence. Matt Ritchie also returns from suspension but is not certain to regain his place from Jamal Lewis.

The starters in midfield and up front are likely to be the same as for the Norwich match, with Ryan Fraser back in after being sacrificed early in midweek in favour of a defensive replacement to cover the loss of Clark.

Travel test for Burnley

Burnley have had 24 hours less to recover from their midweek fixture and, whereas Newcastle have had two home games this week, Sean Dyche's side have faced back-to-back away trips.

The Clarets drew 0-0 at Wolves on Wednesday night and they remain third bottom on ten points, three ahead of Newcastle and three short of the safety line, but with a game in hand following the postponement of last Sunday's fixture at home to Tottenham.

Burnley are fourth favourites for relegation at 2.24.

James Tarkowski and Ashley Westwood will return to the starting line-up after one-match bans, with Nathan Collins and Jack Cork dropping back to the bench.

Connor Roberts, Matej Vydra and Jay Rodriguez are among those pushing for a place if Dyche needs to freshen up his side, although Chris Wood and Maxwell Cornet have become a settled and effective partnership up front.

Draw specialists

This is by far Newcastle's best chance of a win before Christmas, with Leicester, Liverpool and Manchester City to come, followed by Manchester United at home on December 27.

It is a positive that Newcastle have scored in every home game this season, and in fact only seven teams have scored more home goals than their tally of 11 in seven games at St James' Park.

The problem is that the Magpies have the highest goals-against at home (and overall) and getting a clean sheet on the board has to be one of Howe's priorities.

Burnley are the only Premier League side apart from Newcastle without an away win this season and the similarities between the sides do not end there.

Like Newcastle, Burnley have become difficult to beat despite their perilous position, with only Manchester City (2-0 away) inflicting defeat in their last eight games, but are finding it hard to win.

Dyche's side have had several high-scoring draws (2-2 away to Leicester and Southampton and 3-3 at home to Crystal Palace) but their only win was 3-1 at home to Brentford at the end of October.

Burnley have the highest draw rate (seven in 13 games) but are closely followed by Newcastle, Brighton and Palace (all seven in 14).

That makes the draw a major consideration at 3.45 but there is a sneaking suspicion that a win may be coming for Newcastle.

They have shown plenty of spirit all season, fighting back from behind for four of their seven draws, and it was in evidence again on Tuesday when they were a player short against Norwich.

Admittedly it is a risk backing them, but this is their first proper chance at home under Howe (given that they hardly had a chance to play with a full complement against Norwich) and odds of 2.38 look reasonable.

Goals conundrum

Both teams are in the bottom half in terms of goals scored, but they have been involved in several high-scoring matches, which makes over/under 2.5 goals tricky to predict.

That is reflected in the market, with under 2.5 goals the narrow favourite at 1.93.

Five of the 13 draws that involved these teams this season have gone over that mark, and obviously that means those higher-scoring games have been over 3.5 goals too.

In fact, 10 of their combined 27 games have had over 3.5 goals, which is available at 3.55.

Newcastle defender Jamaal Lascelles

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