Bruce survives to reach EPL milestone game

Steve Bruce will coach his 1000th EPL game when Newcastle host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Steve Bruce will coach his 1000th EPL game when Newcastle host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

After a week of speculation over his position as manager of Newcastle United, Steve Bruce will take charge of his 1000th match when Tottenham Hotspur visit St James' Park on Sunday.

It will be Newcastle's first match since their controversial takeover by Saudi Arabia's state investment arm, PIF.

There is expected to be a sense of joy and relief at the departure of unloved former owner Mike Ashley, with some disappointment even confusion at Bruce's continued presence in the dug-out, and possible protests by groups opposed to the takeover on human rights grounds.

There are also three points at stake for a team which may now have football's wealthiest owners but are in the Premier League's bottom three without a win in their seven league matches this season.

Bruce has spent several days talking to minority owner Amanda Staveley and said there had been 'no discussions' on his future.

Asked if he thought he had a chance of convincing the owners to keep him on, he said: "I will have a crack, try my utmost. Who wouldn't want this opportunity? Any manager would love to sit in my chair, so I will make a fist of it and try my utmost. I will try my best for the club."

Bruce said preparation for the match had 'not been easy' but the visitors also have problems. Two unnamed Spurs players have tested positive for COVID and must isolate for 10 days.

Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo said on Friday: "After the international break there are always huge issues that happen. We have problems but I will not say before the game."

He is not the only one facing difficulties due to players being away on international duty.

Liverpool's Alisson Becker and Fabinho will miss their match against a Watford side under new management in Claudio Ranieri, as they have gone straight to Spain to quarantine ahead of the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid.

A raft of other players who featured in the South American round of World Cup qualifiers are doubtful for their domestic matches including Manchester City pair Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, Manchester United duo Fred and Edinson Cavani, Emi Martinez and Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa, Chelsea's Thiago Silva and Leeds' Raphinha.

Leaders Chelsea visit Brentford for their first top-flight London derby for more than 70 years.

Manchester City and Manchester United play Burnley at home and Leicester away respectively. Burnley have lost 5-0 in their last four visits to City in all competitions.

Norwich and Southampton are two of the four teams still without a win and they have home games against Brighton and Leeds respectively.

Australian Associated Press