Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies v Man City as unbeaten teams clash
Newcastle faces Manchester City at the weekend with both sides putting their unbeaten starts to the league season on the line.
In truth few would have expected both teams to remain undefeated by the middle of November but the Magpies’ progress has been even more remarkable. Saturday’s game provides the biggest challenge they have faced this campaign to date, with big-spending City finally living up to their billing as champions-in-waiting. Doubters of Newcastle’s impressive start have claimed that they have not faced any top teams so far – but already the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Aston Villa have failed to take three points from Alan Pardew’s side.
On Saturday the best attack in the league comes up against the best defence in the league with City scoring an impressive 39 goals in only 11 games. Newcastle has a poor record in their recent meetings with the blue half of Manchester; their last win coming back in September 2005. Last season Newcastle lost both of their games against Roberto Mancini’s men with the first game overshadowed by a horrendous double leg break for Hatem Ben Arfa. The Frenchman is still making his way back to full form and fitness but could be in line to make a rare start at the Etihad Stadium. Ben Arfa was sidelined due to a challenge from Nigel de Jong and there are plans after the game for the two players to reconcile.
Newcastle will need all of their key players back if they are to have a chance of defeating City. Already they have suffered a blow with the news that winger Sylvain Marveaux will be out until the New Year with a groin injury. The Frenchman picked up the injury in the club’s previous game against Everton and will be a big loss as his fellow countryman Gabriel Obertan is also out with a toe infection. That could hand a chance to Ben Arfa depending on what formation Alan Pardew decides to field. He has generally selected an attacking 4-4-2 formation both home and away but may decide to be more cautious against the prolific table-toppers. In other injury news, Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote should both be fit to return to the side but Leon Best is doubtful with a groin problem.
Youngster Sammy Ameobi has completed a successful week by signing a new contract with the club. The 19-year-old forward has signed a new three-and-a-half-year contract just days after making his debut for the England Under-21s. Ameobi featured in both of the Under-21s qualifiers but will probably have to make do with the bench at best this weekend. Speaking about his new contract he said: “Since I have been young it has always been my dream to play for Newcastle, and it has been an amazing last year for me, making my first team debut and being involved in the squad. I love this club and would love to stay here for years to come.”
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