Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring
Former Premier League clubs Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers have seen markedly different runs of form this season with the hosts sitting at the top of the table, and the visitors languishing in the relegation zone. Currently separated by 24 points, it is a game that, on paper, isn't really much of a contest.
However, that is not always how things work and, especially in the Championship, anything can happen. One misplaced pass, one poor clearance or ill-advised run could result in a goal that changes the complexion of the contest.
Both sides have match winners in their ranks and will be looking to stamp themselves on the game early on with a goal that will settle the nerves of either side. The two men tasked with doing so are Dwight Gayle and Sam Gallagher, the strikers that will partake in the key battle of the day.
Incredibly, the league's top scorer loses out on a number of the head to head stats. Of course, he has scored more goals, netting 13 times in comparison to Gallgher's seven, while he has also made 77 final third passes, while his opponents has made 61.
However, apart from those two stats, Gallagher triumphs in every other inspected area. The Blackburn striker is marginally victorious in total passes (247 to 243), possession won in the attacking third (five to two), penalty area entires (15 to nine) and touches (448 to 404).
Blackburn Rovers Sam Gallagher celebrates scoring with Scott Wharton
It must be cited though, that Gayle has played less football, albeit, not by much. However, it seems as though Blackburn are more dependent on Gallagher dropping in and being a part of the build up before scoring, while the plethora of creative ability in Newcastle's team means that Gayle knows he can just focus on taking up good positions, finding ways in behind the opposition and finishing.
The stats seem to indicate that a case could be made to suggest Gallagher is having a better season in general play, however, that is what is so impressive about Gayle. He is very often a peripheral figure at points in games, before suddenly exploding into life as he latches onto a speculative ball to score. He is the Championship's best striker and, the only stat that is important to Newcastle is his goal tally.
Sam Gallagher of Blackburn Rovers celebrates
The two will contest what could prove to be an enthralling battle on Saturday. Newcastle will be hoping that the profligacy of those directly below them continues, so that they can extend their lead at the top of the Championship to eight points. Blackburn on the other hand will be desperate to claim three vital points which could see them move out of the relegation zone.
The two strikers will play a pivotal role for both teams as chances are likely to be at a minimum due to Newcastle's solid defence and the fact Rovers are likely to set up to frustrate Newcastle. With the chance of real openings being at a premium, the two forwards will have to be on top form to make their chances count.
Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle in action with Bristol City's Mark Little