Newcastle United have renewed hope in their battle to avoid relegation to the Championship, and they can wipe out the three-point gap to the safety line by producing a big performance to get the better of in-form Manchester City.
There was a last something for the masses to cheer about at St. James’ Park on Saturday as Newcastle hit three goals without reply to brush aside Swansea City, a game where they played with a much greater degree of intensity, and more importantly quality in the final third. Such a convincing win will surely see confidence surge through the ranks after weeks of despair, but here they must play even better to even stand a chance of coming away with any kind of positive result.
Central defender Jamaal Lascelles has spent much of this season on the fringes of the Magpies first-team, but has broken through in recent weeks and he is most certainly a player who cannot be accused of not fighting for the cause, scoring against Swansea just days after publically criticising his teammates for a lack of application. Here he will have his hands full up against Sergio Aguero, while Newcastle’s threat going forward will come from Andros Townsend, who has made an impact since arriving in January.
In times gone by it has been Aguero that has been the big miss for Man City, or perhaps Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure or David Silva. Now, the player who makes them a considerably better team is Kevin de Bruyne, who quickly set about proving a point to former club Chelsea at the weekend as his incision and quality on the ball inspired a highly satisfying 3-0 victory in West London. It was for the most part a complete performance; one worthy of a side that should still be fighting for the title.
The centre-back pairing of Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi is beginning to show some signs of becoming more solid as a unit, and that enables City to counter-attack with such devastating effect. That is what the hosts will need to look out for here, especially from their own set-pieces, where Chelsea were so often picked off. In general play, it will be down to Newcastle’s combative midfield duo of Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote to play with the utmost discipline.
Daryl Janmaat is likely to miss out again for Newcastle, who are definitely unable to call upon Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor.
Fernando could be given a recall by Man City, wo could have Kompany back available following his latest injury lay-off.
Last Meeting: Man City were not at their best on the opening weekend of last season, but had enough to see off Newcastle and begin their title defence with victory. David Silva gave them the lead by supplying the finish after an intelligent backheel from Edin Dzeko, and as the hosts rarely threatened it was left for Sergio Aguero to seal it at the death as he scored on the rebound when his initial shot was saved.
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