Huddersfield v Newcastle
Sunday 20 August, 13:30
Live on SS Main Event & SS Premier League
Hosts seek to maintain flying start
Huddersfield produced one of the standout results of the opening weekend with their 3-0 win at Crystal Palace, marked by two goals from their new £11m striker Steve Mounie. The 22-year-old scored with a firm header and a crisp right-footed finish, suggesting he will be a threat to many defences this season.
David Wagner's side are still relegation favourites at 2.186/5, however, and statistically the odds are against them as six of the last 10 playoff winners have gone straight back down. Against that, survival chances are improved dramatically for promoted teams who get an early win on the board.
Selection issues for Benitez
Newcastle's manager Rafa Benitez and fans must wonder how Huddersfield manage to spend £11m on a striker when they can't, and there is less sense of a club pulling together in the same direction at St James' Park than there is 120 miles south in West Yorkshire.
Still, Newcastle finished 13 points ahead of Huddersfield in the Championship last season and not too much can be read into their opening 2-0 home defeat by Tottenham for two reasons: one, the sending-off of Jonjo Shelvey after 48 minutes with the scores level and, two, they were playing one of the best sides in the Premier League and may well have lost anyway.
With Shelvey suspended, Benitez could hand a first start to Spain under-21 midfielder Mikel Merino, who is on loan from Borussia Dortmund. Defenders Paul Dummett and Florian Lejeune were both taken off injured against Spurs and Benitez is likely to go with the defence that finished Sunday's game.
Newcastle well set up on the road
Before the big kick-off this match would have been priced up quite differently but it is possible to argue there is value on either side now.
If you believe Huddersfield are going to be one of the surprise packages, odds of 2.526/4 in their first home match will look decent later in the season. Their home record in the Championship was pretty good (15 wins out of 23) but three of their six defeats came against other top-six finishers, including a 3-1 loss to Newcastle in March.
Newcastle would have been considerably shorter if this had been the first match of the season instead of the second and, with the Tottenham result being no real indication of how they will cope at the top level, win odds of 3.39/4 look big.
Benitez's side were the most prolific winners on the road in the Championship last season (14 out of 23) and were the highest scorers as well as having the meanest away defence, which indicates they will be well set up to take on Huddersfield.
Let's take the draw out of the equation and go for the best value, which has to be Newcastle (the superior team last season) at 2.35/4 on draw no bet.
Goals could flow
Even with a cautious approach from Benitez as he seeks to get points on the board, this match could produce goals and over 2.5 goals makes some appeal at 2.265/4.
Both matches between the sides went over that mark last season - both away wins (2-1 for Huddersfield and 3-1 for Newcastle). With Huddersfield likely to press forward in front of their own fans in search of another win, and Newcastle a good counter-attacking side, both sides may struggle to keep a clean sheet.
Both teams to score is available at 1.9310/11, while Newcastle striker Dwight Gayle is 3.55 to score, having done so in both matches against Huddersfield last season.
Craig Pawson had an eventful start to his Premier League season when he sent off Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas last Saturday as Chelsea were beaten by Burnley, with six other players booked. That was the fifth time in 25 Premier League games since the start of last season that Pawson had issued a red card.
Back Newcastle on Draw No Bet at 2.35/4
Steve Mounie scored a brace on his Premier League debut in the Terriers' 3-0 win at Crystal Palace - the last player to score in his first two Premier League appearances whilst at a newly promoted side was Michael Ricketts with Bolton in 2001-02. Mounie is 3.259/4 to score against Newcastle.
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