Newcastle United will entertain Cardiff City at St James’ Park on Bonfire Night, with a win crucial to both club's campaign.
Cardiff's form in the Championship has been unimpressive so far leaving them at the foot of the table, hovering just above the relegation zone.
In stark contrast, Newcastle have reached the summit of the table through a series of versatile wins. From a coherent showing at Loftus Road to grinding out an ugly 1-0 away win at Rotherham to a spectacular late comeback at home to Norwich.
New manager bounce
The fixture will mark a full month since Neil Warnock took over Cardiff City with the view of earning his eighth promotion. In his short time, the manager has yielded seven points out of twelve.
If City come away from the Toon with three points, it could catapult them well away from the danger zone where they currently reside, depending on results from elsewhere in the Championship.
Despite the difference in table positions, Ian Holloway said that “if there’s anyone that can beat Newcastle, Neil can” in an interview with Sky Sports. Before adding that he still thinks that the league leaders have got this one in the bag.
Mags in form
Newcastle United’s drop to the second division is proving positively character building, with 14 wins out of 16 they are the most in-form team in England - even beating Premier League leaders Manchester City in the battle of the stats.
Half of the wins have come from the Magpies’ current streak of seven in all competitions - six in the league.
Given the rotation that manager Rafa Benitez is putting into practice, they do not look like slowing down any time soon.
The last time the two teams came face-to-face was in Cardiff City's last stop-off in the Premier League back in 2014. Newcastle came out on top both home and away, most notably crushing the Welsh side 3-0 at St James' Park.
Since 2009 the sides have only clashed five times, Newcastle emerging as victors all but once when Cardiff marginally won in the 2014 FA Cup campaign.
Looking back to 2009/10 when Newcastle were last relegated is the most accurate simulation. The Mags reigned at the top while City lost out in the play-offs. When the Bluebirds visited St James' during the Toon's spell in the second division, they were sentenced to a 5-1 loss.
Benitez announced at the pre-match press conference that Championship top-scorer Dwight Gayle is available selection. He now has a problem most managers would be envious of: Gayle or Aleksandar Mitrovic?
While Newcastle are not short on firing power, they will miss playmaker Matt Ritchie is suspended from the game as he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season.
Rickie Lambert may have to sit this one out for Cardiff City as the striker is set to undergo a medical, having recieved stitches in his leg last week. In more positive news, Warnock could refresh the squad since development players Kenneth Zohore and Emyr Huws impressed mid-week.