Two teams still searching for their first wins of the 2021-22 Premier League season will lock horns at St James' Park on Friday evening (8:00PM, 17 Sept), as Newcastle United welcome Leeds United for an intriguing encounter.
Newcastle have only picked up one point from their opening four matches to occupy 19th in the table, while Leeds have collected just two points to sit 17th in the division ahead of the next round of action.
There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a tough start to the season for Newcastle, who have collected just a single point from four matches to sit 19th in the table, while they have already conceded 12 times, which is the worst defensive record in the top flight this term.
Steve Bruce's side had ended the month of August with a draw at home to Southampton but were beaten 4-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford last weekend, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice on his return for the Red Devils; Javier Manquillo had actually levelled the scores early in the second half, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team went on to score another three goals without reply in the final 30 minutes.
It is still very early in the season, so hardly time to panic, but Newcastle's next two league matches are extremely important, as they welcome Leeds before travelling to Watford on September 25, and the Magpies will not want to be in the relegation zone heading into October.
Newcastle have not actually beaten Leeds in the Premier League since January 2004, losing both meetings between the two teams last season, including a 2-1 defeat at St James' Park back in January.
Bruce will be aware of the importance of Friday's contest, but Newcastle have only won one of their last five home Premier League matches and conceded four in a loss to West Ham United on the opening weekend.
Leeds, meanwhile, have also made a disappointing start to the new Premier League campaign, collecting just two points from four matches, while they have the joint-second worst defensive record in the division behind Newcastle, having conceded 11 times thus far.
The Whites picked up a point away to Burnley before the international break but suffered a 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday afternoon, with the Reds being afforded far too much space over the course of the match.
Leeds were so impressive on their return to the top flight last term, finishing ninth in the table, but they will be wary of the dreaded second-season syndrome, and it would be fair to say that their entertaining brand of football does leave them vulnerable against the better sides in the division.
Marcelo Bielsa's side will be in EFL Cup action away to Fulham on September 21 before ending the month at home to West Ham in the Premier League, and it is absolutely vital that the team put a league victory on the board as soon as possible.
The Whites scored seven times in their two Premier League games against Newcastle last term, though, and should therefore be in a confident mood as they prepare to head to St James' Park.
Newcastle will again be without the services of Martin Dubravka, Jonjo Shelvey and Elliott Anderson on Friday through injury, while Callum Wilson will also miss out due to a thigh problem.
Paul Dummett and Ryan Fraser will face late fitness tests, but Karl Darlow was back on the bench against Man United after struggling to overcome coronavirus and could now return between the sticks in place of Freddie Woodman.
Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar are in line to return to the back three, while Isaac Hayden could move into midfield, but the likes of Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin are certain starters, with Sean Longstaff potentially dropping out following the loss to Man United.
Joe Willock will need to be assessed after picking up a knock at Old Trafford, while the same can also be said for Manquillo and Ciaran Clark.
As for Leeds, Robin Koch is again unavailable due to a groin problem, while Diego Llorente will miss out with the muscular issue that forced him to leave the field against Liverpool.
Pascal Struijk is also suspended after receiving a straight red card for a challenge on Liverpool's Harvey Elliott, meaning that Bielsa has a big decision to make in the middle of his defence.
Luke Ayling could be moved inside to join Liam Cooper, with Stuart Dallas potentially operating at right-back and Tyler Roberts coming into midfield.
Daniel James is pushing to start after making his debut off the bench against Liverpool, but Jack Harrison is again expected to feature down the left, with Raphinha and Patrick Bamford also operating in the final third of the field.
Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Darlow; Fernandez, Lascelles, Schar; Manquillo, Willock, Hayden, Almiron, Ritchie; Joelinton, Saint-Maximin
Leeds United possible starting lineup:
Meslier; Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Firpo; Raphinha, Rodrigo, Phillips, Roberts, Harrison; Bamford
Both defences have been suspect this season, and we can see goals at St James' Park on Friday night. Leeds will go after Newcastle, but the Magpies impressed during stages of their defeat to Man United and should have enough to claim a share of the spoils in the Premier League contest.