Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
It’s fair to say that this match is an outsider to head off the evening’s Match of the Day broadcast, but there is an intriguing undercurrent to this meeting between two sides that currently occupy mid-table terrain. These are two clubs who have been tipped more than once to eventually be sucked down the relegation plughole in recent seasons, but have tended to find enough form to escape. Neither is a favourite of the purist, either – but they’ve got a stubborn tendency to get results when they’re really needed.
Burnley could certainly do with a result right now. They’ve lost their last two matches and conceded nine goals in the effort, tumbling 4-1 at home to Manchester City and then 5-0 at Spurs. Newcastle, meanwhile, are in their best form for ages, having beaten Southampton and Sheffield United in consecutive games, and taken a point off the champions before that.
Burnley vs Newcastle United Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Newcastle United
There is always one stretch of the season in which Burnley fare badly. In the 2017/18 season it was the end, which nearly saw their European dreams ended before they had begun. Last season, partly because they were distracted by those European matches, the beginning was a bit shaky. This season, they seem to be coming unstuck in the middle. Admittedly, most sides would find the Man City/Spurs one-two punch tricky; but we’re not used to Burnley losing so heavily, and before that they also lost, at home, to Crystal Palace. It would be far from shocking to see them lose a fourth in a row.
Our recommended tip: Newcastle win
Magpies fans could be forgiven for fearing the worst when, after escaping relegation, Rafael Benitez resigned and was replaced by Steve Bruce, a man who had a cabbage thrown at him for poor results in his last major job at Aston Villa. A boyhood fan of the club, Bruce has definitely had a more encouraging start than anyone expected, and somehow pulled more than a goal per game from a team with a front three of Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Alain Saint-Maximin. Defensively, they’ve retained the solidity that Benitez brought to the club, and Betfair’s odds of 31/10 on them winning here look high.
Although Burnley’s record in the Premier League in recent years has been impressive, they’ve struggled with games against Newcastle. Last time out, at St James’ Park, the Magpies won 2-0 with both goals coming in the first half. Defender Fabian Schar thumped a 30-yarder in off the post on 24 minutes, which was then added to by youngster Sean Longstaff, who tapped in after Matt Ritchie’s 37th-minute cross was poorly defended. The Clarets, as they usually do, marshalled everything they could for the fightback, but couldn’t find a way through.
Top 3 Premier League Bookies
Players to watch: James Tarkowski & Jonjo Shelvey
Pressed into first-team service when the Clarets sold England international Michael Keane to Everton, Tarkowski was very much the Caglar Soyuncu of his day, as he has since outshone the man whose position he has filled. The former Brentford man has gone on to make a few England appearances of his own and, even as Burnley themselves have occasionally looked unimpressive, Tarkowski has retained the calm, assured defensive style that should keep them out of too much trouble.
Hearing that Jonjo Shelvey – or any Newcastle midfielder – had scored five goals in 11 games this season is one of those stats that makes you go and check. We’ve known about his ability to strike from distance for some time, of course, but there have always been questions about his consistency. However, a belter of a strike against Manchester City and a more opportunistic finish against Sheffield United have demonstrated that the mercurial Shelvey is in fine form, and he’ll maintain his threat here.