Rochdale v Newcastle | Saturday 4th January 2020, 12:30 | BT Sport
Newcastle travel west for some temporary restbite from a brutal run of results and bad luck that has seen them lose three on the bounce and a host of players to injury.
Steve Bruce blamed an extremely busy Christmas schedule for having to play almost an entire half with 10 men against Leicester after four Magpies players withdrew through injury. There are now up to 11 of their first team squad who are definitely out or doubtful for the trip to Rochdale, seven of whom are defenders so as much as Bruce may want to rotate on Saturday, he may be left without any choice in certain positions but to go full strength due to limited options.
Newcastle’s fit defenders will be thankful to be coming up against attacking players with less quality than their recent Premier League opponents as seemingly every one of their recent mistakes have been punished, conceding seven in two games to Manchester United and then Leicester on New Years Day.
At the other end of the pitch, record signing Joelinton has only bagged one goal since arriving for an eye-watering £40m during the summer so Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle, both likely to start here, will be keen to impress to put pressure on the Brazilian’s place in the team.
Carroll can hause havoc at Spotland
A bet I’ll be having a little dabble on is Carroll to score a header which is 7/2 with SkyBet. Rochdale have won the lowest number of aerial duels in League One this season and with the Geordie having such prowess in the air and a good four-inch height advantage over Dale’s centre-backs, the price quoted looks worth backing ahead of the shorter anytime price.
Carroll scored a header against lower league opposition in the third round of last season’s FA Cup too, clinching his then club West Ham’s progression with a 2-0 win over Birmingham.
His all-round game and fitness are all valid question marks that hang over Carroll’s head but it’s a tall head at that, standing at 6′ 4″. His leap is superb and the stats underline – the striker winning 6.3 aerial duels per game (the second-highest of all Premier League players) despite limited game time.
Six of Carroll’s last eleven goals have come in the month of January so there is clearly something he likes about this time of year and having declared this week that he wants to stay on Tyneside for some time to come, he’ll want to make a mark to back that statement up.
Dale will relish the limelight
Saturday’s opponents Rochdale are having a tough season in League One but manager Brian Barry-Murphy, who replaced Keith Hill in March last year, will be buoyed by his side’s win at in-form Accrington to start the new year. It may sometimes be easy for fans of clubs like Dale to forget how much an achievement just surviving in the third tier is, especially when considering that near neighbours Bury went bust just a few months ago following financial mismanagement.
That very fact only underlines how important cup ties against Premier League opposition are to lower league clubs and Rochdale have certainly had their fair share of success in these games in years gone by.
Since 2014, the club have beaten Leeds, Millwall and Nottingham Forest at the Crown Oil Arena and even held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the EFL Cup earlier this season, eventually bowing out on penalties. Even Tottenham failed to win on this ground just two years ago with Dale forcing a replay at Wembley.
Those past glory moments should give this squad confidence heading into the tie against beleaguered Newcastle and the two men they will need to call upon to get any form of result will be Callum Camps and Ian Henderson.
Both local born lads, both 10 years apart in terms of age but both just as crucial to Dale’s success. Henderson in particular now has 121 goals for Dale since joining the club and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down with 10 strikes this season, half way towards his return of 20 in 2018/19.
The prices on Henderson shots are too short for me to want to back, however, but I wouldn’t necessary put anyone off backing him to find the net at 5/2 with several bookies with Hendo playing in the number nine role currently.
The betting angle
My main selection will be a stats based one. Both these sides rank low on the corners front, averaging the least amount of flag-kicks in their respective divisions. With Dale playing a narrow 4-3-3 without wide men and Newcastle often on the back foot and currently missing star man Allan Saint-Maximin, it’s of little surprise that this is the case.
In addition, with Newcastle taking more goal kicks in the Premier League this season than any other side and Dale potentially causing problems for the Magpies based on what I’ve already mentioned, combining under 12 match corners with over 6.5 Newcastle goal kicks with Bet365’s BetBuilder comes out at 11/10.
Rochdale v Newcastle – Under 12 Corners and Over 6.5 Newcastle Goal Kicks (11/10 Bet365)