Burton Albion vs Newcastle United Preview: Magpies to face Burton for the first time in their history

In 2005, Newcastle United boss Rafael Benitez was busy orchestrating an Istanbul comeback whilst Burton Albion had just finished a mediocre season in the National League. Now, in an 11-year turnover, Benitez is preparing his side for their first ever visit to the 6912-seater Pirelli Stadium.

Both sides head into the tie with contrasting emotions. The Magpies will search for a win to keep their lead over Brighton and Hove Albion at the top of the Championship table, while for Nigel Clough's men, a defeat could see them fall into the bottom four. 

Benitez will no doubt treat this encounter as a difficult game. It's a game that the Newcastle's players won't enjoy from pre-match with the luxuries of being a professional football likely be taken away when they arrive.  

The first meeting

The 3pm kick-off on Saturday will list a brand new meeting in football as both sides have yet to meet in league competition. Burton rise to the second tier of English football is a very commendable effort as a job started by ex-QPR, Jimmy-Floyd Hasslebank in League Two and mid-way through League One was finished off by current boss Clough to achieve two promotions in as many years after their promotion from the National League in 2009. 

Newcastle United coming to town in a league competition will be a tie that the town of Burton will definitely embrace and can make them feel proud of how far they've come in two years. 

Season records - Burton come up against the Championship's best away side

All five of Burton's Championship wins this season has come at the Pirelli with 17 of their 22 points coming on home turf. Clough men have shown they are a tough side to beat on their home patch with promotion-hopefuls, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby County and Birmingham City all knowing what it's like to suffer a defeat. 

However, Newcastle will offer Burton their biggest challenge yet. The Magpies have the best away record in the Championship, having only lost two games on the road at Fulham and Nottingham Forest. Benitez side has been ruthless away from home as eight wins and one draw has earned them an impressive 28 away points.

Current form

After suffering two defeats on the bounce at home to Blackburn Rovers and eight men at Forest, the Toon Army have responded with two wins in a row to maintain their place at the top of the division by one point. 

For the hosts, they are enduring a difficult patch in the second tier with only one win in seven, though at that was a huge win at home to relegation candidates and rock bottom, Rotherham United. Burton will have take inspiration from their notable home wins if they are going to mount an upset and beat the Geordies. 

Will Benitez revert back to his rotation policy? 

Toon boss Benitez is likely to ring some changes to his starting 11 as the Spaniard named an unchanged 11 in mid-week for the first time this season. The central defence parting of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark are likely to retain their places - Paul Dummett is also likely too. Benitez may opt to give DeAndre Yedlin some game time at the expense of Vurnon Anita. 

Christian Atsu may have earned a start after coming off the bench to score Newcastle's second at the DW Stadium on Wednesday, though newly and deserving fans favourite, Yoan Gouffran is a hard person to drop as the Magpies have lost just once when he started a game this season. Matt Ritchie is another fans favourite. Jonjo Shelvey is almost certain to start giving his inspirational form this season, but his central-midfield team-mate and unsung hero Isaac Hayden, may be rested with Jack Colback now in training.  

Dwight Gayle, who is the Championship's top scorer this season with 16 goals, will probably start, the only question is will Benitez start Mohammed Diame or Ayoze Perez behind the number nine. It seems unlikely that Bentiez will opt for an Aleksander Mitrovic and Gayle partnership. 

For the home side, Clough make opt to revert back to the side that won the club's last game against Rotherham a few weeks ago, though Ben Turner will have to drop out of the side due to suspension. Top scorer Jackson Irvine is a guaranteed starter.

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