On Tuesday, 26 December, as part of the 19th round of the Premier League, Newcastle will host Nottingham Forest at home. Last weekend, Eddie Howe's side was surprisingly defeated 1-0 by Luton, while Nuno's squad capitulated to Bournemouth with a score of 2:3.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Trippier, Schär, Botman, Livramento; Longstaff, Gimaresh, Joelinton; Almiron, Isak, Gordon.
Nottingham Forest: Turner; Williams, N'Koulou, Murillo, Toffolo; Mangala, Yates; Origi, Gibbs-White, Elanga; Wood.
The clash will take place in Newcastle at St James's Park.
Despite striving to crack the top 4, Newcastle currently sits only in 6th place in the Premier League table and will have to put in a considerable effort to achieve their goals. After a not-so-successful start to the campaign, the Magpies have found good form, however, recent weeks have seen them seriously hampered by injuries. This led to two defeats from Everton (3:0) and Tottenham (4:1), following which the stripes prevailed at home over Fulham (3:0). In the League Cup, Eddie Howe's side missed a victory over Chelsea, ultimately bowing out in the quarter-finals (1:1, lost on penalties). Four days after this setback, the Magpies suffered a sensational defeat to Luton due to Andros Townsend's goal on the 25th minute of the match. The team's fans comfort themselves with the fact that four of their last five losses have come in away clashes.
A success on Tuesday will allow the hosts to extend their home Premier League winning streak to seven victories, during which time they conceded just one goal! The club's main goalkeeper Nick Pope, experienced players Anderson, Murphy, Willock and Barnes, as well as Manquillo and Targett, are recovering from injuries. Italian midfielder Tonali continues to serve his suspension, and the participation of right-wing Trippier remains doubtful. Lewis Mailey was substituted early on at Kenilworth Road over the weekend, though Eddie Howe explained that it was due to tactical considerations and precautionary measures. Home wingers Miguel Almiron (3 goals) and Wilson (7 goals) will appear on the flanks, while striker duo Isak (7 goals) and Gordon (6 goals) will be at the forefront of the attack.
This season, Nottingham Forest faces an exhausting survival battle. The team currently sits in 17th place in the Premier League table, although still five points clear of the relegation zone. The guests' current run of six games without a win (1 draw and 5 losses) points to a crisis within the club. After getting a draw against Wolverhampton (1:1) in early December, Nottingham Forest lost a home game to Tottenham (0:2). Subsequently, the team's manager, Steve Cooper, was sacked and replaced by Portuguese Nuno Espirito. However, his debut for Nottingham was unsuccessful: Chris Wood and Anthony Elanga scored goals against Bournemouth in the second half, yet the dismissal of Willy Boly allowed the cherries to emerge victorious thanks to a hat-trick by Dominic Solanke.
Given that Nottingham hasn't won any of its six away Premier League games, the trip to St. James's Park doesn't bode well. Nottingham Forest is still without key Nigerian forward Awoniyi (4 goals and 2 assists) due to injury. Moreover, the participation of experienced defenders Aurier and Felipe remains uncertain after Saturday's clash with Bournemouth. Boly faces a one-match suspension for a contentious dismissal, possibly letting Musa N'Koulou fill in at centre-back. Forwards Gibbs-White (1 goal and 2 assists) and Elanga (3 goals and 3 assists) will almost certainly appear in the guests' attack. Given the staff problems in the Forest, it will not be surprising to see experienced Divock Origi starting.
Newcastle has not lost to Forest at home in the premier division since as far back as 1988, and last season the Magpies emerged victorious twice with an aggregate score of 4:1.
Despite an impressive home winning streak, Newcastle should not expect an easy stroll on Tuesday. Recently, the hosts have been regularly tripped up by opponents from the lower half of the league table, while the coaching shake-up at Forest might give the players an emotional boost. However, the visitors are weakened by staff losses and have only picked up 5 points from 9 away Premier League games. My prediction is a win for the favourites.
Newcastle has scored 22 goals at home across 9 rounds, and, despite Joelinton's injury, the hosts have a powerful offensive potential. I expect the Magpies to score at least two goals against Forest.