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Jon Riley 29th Jan 2010 - 17:31

Will it be a case of Away the Lads?

Championship leaders Newcastle United head to the Walkers Stadium to face out-of-sorts Leicester City with their position at the summit of the league under threat for the first time this season.

Nottingham Forest's sequence of 19 league games unbeaten has seen them rise up the Championship pecking order to such an extent that a sixth goal in their last game against QPR would have been enough for them to leapfrog the runaway Geordies and into top spot.

Newcastle themselves though are enjoying a run of 13 games unbeaten which impressively has yielded 8 clean sheets. That record will be put to the test this weekend with wholesale changes to the defence enforced due to injury. Steven Taylor and Danny Simpson are unavailable for United and their absence in defence has forced Chris Hughton to dip into the transfer market, bringing in Mike Williamson and loanees Fitz Hall and Patrick van Aanholt into the squad.

The hosts Leicester are slight underdogs at 13/8 and have defensive worries of their own which could mean a rare run out for 40 year old Chris Powell at left back. City coach Nigel Pearson could also give a debut to experienced Peruvian Nolberto Solano against his former club. The former Newcastle star has been training with the first team squad this week and is awaiting international clearance in time for the 5.20pm kick off on Saturday.

Newcastle's recent form should prove too much for the Foxes, indeed United are unbeaten in their last 8 meetings with Leicester and are priced at 11/8, the bookies believing United won't be out outfoxed on this occasion. With Newcastle being such a dominant force this season both home and away they are very rarely afforded generous prices even when travelling to difficult grounds such as the Walkers. This is where a correct score bet could pump up the price. Leicester have lost their previous two games 1-0 and the table topping Geordies are 11/2 to win by that same scoreline.

The last three encounters between the two teams in Leicestershire though have ended as draws and at 21/10 could be decent value. Added to this that Newcastle's previous two trips away from St. James' have resulted in 2-2 draws (2-2 is 14-1) then the appeal of the draw increases somewhat.

Attacking wise both teams have a full complement of players at their disposal. Leicester's top scorer Matty Fryatt is 5/1 to notch the first goal and 5/4 at any point in the game. Alternatively, North East lad Steve Howard is 2/1 to score at any time against the team he used to follow as a boy.

For the Toon, their top scorer Kevin Nolan is priced at 6/1 to open the scoring and a very reasonable 7/4 to score anytime, this considering he has found the net in the last three Newcastle away games. If you think he can produce a repeat of the hat-trick he scored when putting Ipswich to the sword in September then a price of 40/1 is on offer.

For this game I would be recommending a Leicester double chance (Leicester or Draw at 1/2) as I feel that despite Newcastle's obvious strengths, Leicester's impressive home record and vocal fans could play a huge part. Leicester have scored 5 times at home in the 90th minute and they're 12/5 to score in the last 15 minutes, which I can see them doing to possibly snatch a draw or even victory.

The other bet I would put forward would be for Peter Lovenkrands to score at anytime. The Danish winger has found his form in recent weeks and a FA Cup hat-trick against Plymouth two weeks ago demonstrated his eye for goal. At 6/4 I think he could be worth a few quid.


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