Newcastle vs Sheffield United: Boos or backing in store for Steve Bruce?

In terms of Premier League possibilities, this one is something of a dead rubber, but it's a big one for Steve Bruce with disenchanted fans back in St James' Park.

When: Wednesday May 19, 18:00 GMT

How to watch: Sky Sports

Best Bets

Allan Saint-Maximin to score and Newcastle to win at 7/2 (Sky Bet)

Newcastle to win 3-0 at 16/1 (Bet365)

Newcastle to score a penalty at 7/2 (Bet365)

Ordinarily you would say there was every chance of there being a real end-of-season feel to this one, but the return of a limited number of fans to St James' Park will likely add an edge either way.

What exactly the nature of that edge will be determined by what happens on the pitch, however.

While the Magpies' performances and results have improved of late and guided them to safety, frustration has certainly been building on Tyneside this season and they are unlikely to pass up an opportunity to tell Steve Brice when they think if things don't go well against the bottom club in the Premier League.

Sheffield United have actually improved a little recently too, with their win at Everton last week their second in four games.

Last Three meetings

Sheffield United 1-0 Newcastle (January 12, 2021)

The Blades have actually won more matches than the two sides immediately above them this season, and one of those came against Newcastle in January.

In the end, the contest was settled by a Billy Sharp penalty in the last 20 minutes after a VAR ruling on a handball.

It was an especially bad outing for Newcastle, who had now lost four of their last six matches, scoring just once along the way.

Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United (June 21 2020)

Sheffield United have not actually won at St James' Park since 1979, and they were well beaten on their last visit.

Their cause was not helped by a red card to John Egan for a second bookable offence in the 50th minute, though.

At that time, the match was level, but Newcastle needed just five minutes to make the advantage count through Allan Saint-Maximin.

Further goals from Matt Ritchie and Joelinton added some real gloss to the scoreline.

Sheffield United 0-2 Newcastle (December 5, 2019)

Newcastle's hoodoo over the Blades held firm in this fixture last season, with that man Allan Saint-Maximin again among the goals.

Sheffield United felt a little badly done to on the day, but Newcastle were simply the more ruthless side and worthy of the three points.

After Saint-Maximin's early opener, which was his first ever goal for the club, Jonjo Shelvey settled the nerves in the 70th minute.

Premier League head-to-head

Newcastle wins: 4

Draws: 0

Sheff Utd wins: 3

Newcastle goals: 11

Sheff Utd goals: 5

Magpies momentum

It has taken a while, but it appears that Steve Bruce has finally manage to generate some momentum with his Newcastle side this season.

They have won three and lost just two of their last seven matches, and they even managed to thrill in the most recent of those losses - a 3-4 home defeat to Manchester City.

The run appears to have come at the right time to justify Mike Ashley's persistence with Bruce for next season, although as far as Newcastle fans are concerned the former Manchester United skipper still has a lot to prove at his boyhood club.

Glimmers of hope for Sheffield United

There is no way to sugar-coat it: It has been an utterly dreadful season for the Blades.

Their points total of 20 from 36 games is reflective of just how poor they have been, but it only tells so much of the story.

Sheffield United have actually lost a staggering 28 (78%) of their 36 matches this season, and that highlights how much work there is to be done at the club this summer.

They have won two of their last four, though, so maybe, just maybe, there is at least a glimmer of hope moving forward.

Goalscorer bets

Steve Bruce determined to hang onto Newcastle’s star man Allan Saint-Maximin
Steve Bruce determined to hang onto Newcastle’s star man Allan Saint-Maximin

Allan Saint-Maximin has scored in both of his matches against Sheffield United. Certain players just seem to love playing against certain teams, and may be the Frenchman just has the Blades' number.

He has opened the scoring in this fixture twice before, and he is 11/2 to do it again.

On-loan Arsenal man Joe Willock has also been in sensational scoring form for Newcastle, and he can be backed at 5/1 to score the first goal and 15/8 anytime.

Sheff Utd youngster Daniel Jebbison grabbed his first Premier League goal last time out at Everton, and he is 7/1 to score first again at St James'.