Nigel Martyn has told LeedsUnited.News that he is hoping Leeds can produce an away performance similar to the one that saw Marcelo Bielsa’s men blow Aston Villa away to win 3-0 at Villa Park earlier in the season – as the Whites face a crucial trip to Tyneside to take on Steve Bruce’s struggling Newcastle United side.
Leeds come into the game having lost their last three games, failing to score a single goal since the turn of the year. Successive 3-0 defeats to Tottenham and Crawley have somewhat ruined the good results against West Brom and Burnley, before a must-win clash against Brighton on Saturday resulted in a 1-0 defeat at Elland Road. There is a bit of pressure on Leeds.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are in even worse form. They have suffered four straight league defeats – including a loss to Sheffield United, Chris Wilder’s first Premier League win of the season. Their last league win came on December 12, before the reverse fixture in which Leeds annihilated Newcastle with a 5-2 win at Elland Road.
Reflecting on the defeat to Brighton, Martyn feels that while both teams had to play on the Elland Road turf last time out – it benefited an away side given that the home team are always going to dominate possession. He believes that on a better pitch, Bielsa’s men will thrive – perhaps starting against Newcastle.
“I don’t think the players will have wanted to blame the pitch but it does have an effect. It wasn’t as though Brighton sat in with huge numbers, but they worked out a good way of playing,” Martyn said. “Leeds struggled with their normal one-touch passing. When it is that crisp it is difficult for any team to play against. It puts more pressure on them. They now have to come out with solid performances, I’m sure they will.
Leeds should be feeling confident. While they have gone three games without scoring a goal, Newcastle have managed just one effort in their last eight league and cup outings – a left-footed effort from Andy Carroll in a 2-1 home loss to Leicester City. Despite the match being in the north east, Leeds are certainly favourites.
Martyn also stated that he is “cautiously optimistic” ahead of the trip north to take on Steve Bruce’s side. He thinks that while it is crucial to ignore those that are suggesting the ‘wheels are falling off’ at Elland Road, it is equally as important to put those suggestions to bed. Martyn wants to see a performance like the 3-0 away win over Villa.
“Newcastle is a big game for us, you don’t want to get dragged down into it. Lots of people have spoke about is this the start of Leeds falling away? You don’t want to think about that, but you’ve got to put it to bed straight away. A point against Newcastle is not a bad result, hopefully the lads should enjoy playing there – against a team under more pressure, and a manager too.
“Ride out that first 20-minute storm and then impose your style of football, keep turning them,” Martyn continued. “Their confidence will be fragile. I’m cautiously optimistic, as Newcastle need the result more and are in a fragile state themselves. It is an opportunity for Leeds to certainly get a point, hopefully three. Score predictions are so difficult, but I’m hoping for a Villa away performance – something like that, as Newcastle are going to have to attack and that will suit us.”
In terms of team news, Leeds are set to welcome back Kalvin Phillips from suspension while Diego Llorente could start. Robin Koch, Adam Forshaw and Gaetano Berardi are all in line to return to training sooner rather than later. Leeds Live report that in the 22-man squad travelling north, Under-23 stars Leif Davis, Jack Jenkins and Oliver Casey have been included.