Manchester City’s 44-year wait to lift the title in England’s top flight could be over if they can manage to beat a tough Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena. Roberto Mancini’s men probably would still have to beat QPR on the final day, but victory away in the North-East will surely give them the confidence to go on and beat their cross-city rivals.
Mancini believes that the game against the Magpies will be a much more difficult encounter than their Monday night victory over Manchester United and City will have to be focused. Their win over United moved them top of the Premier League table on goal difference and extended their winning form to four games following the 1-0 loss to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Many believed that City had thrown their chance of glory, but the re-introduction of Carlos Tevez seems to have galvanised the team and they have scored 12 times and conceded just the one goal since Mikel Arteta’s strike in North London.
Tevez should start again for City, but Mancini has a dilemma over whether he retracts his decision to keep Mario Balotelli away from proceedings. The Italian said that Balotelli would not play again this season following his red card against Arsenal, but Mancini named the fiery forward on the bench in the Manchester Derby. With such a high-pressure game on the cards and lots at stake, it is worth thinking whether Balotelli will be used to try and display some of that coolness and care-free attitude everyone sees during his celebrations. Pablo Zabaleta started at right-back on Monday night, but the Argentinian could lose his place in the side to Micah Richards who seems to have recovered from his hamstring problem.
Newcastle had their very own injury worries following the 2-0 midweek win at Stamford Bridge with Cheick Tiote requiring seven stitches above his eye. That nasty collision with John Obi Mikel does not seem to have bothered the Ivorian with Alan Pardew saying that Tiote will be available for Sunday. Right-back Danny Simpson remains a doubt in defence and Newcastle are still without Steven Taylor, so Mike Williamson is expected to make his 50th appearance in the Premier League alongside captain Fabricio Coloccini.
City have been potent in their last few fixtures, but the Magpies have their own goalscoring threat in striker Papiss Cisse. The Senegalese international took his tally for the season to 13 with two brilliant efforts at Stamford Bridge. Cisse’s first was magnificent, but the second one was truly stunning and sealed all three points for Pardew’s men. Newcastle sit in fifth, just one point away from Arsenal in third and level with fourth placed Tottenham, so a win against City would do them a great deal.
Mancini must be quietly confident that the momentum and belief that has triggered after Monday’s win will help them get past Newcastle. However, with only two home losses all season, the Magpies are gunning for the Champions League and a win over City will give them a good chance of pipping Spurs into the final spot. This game is much too close to call and both sides are highly dangerous going forward, so it could come down to whoever has the most nerve in this crucial clash.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Newcastle