After their first domestic defeat of the season against Liverpool on Sunday, Manchester City look to bounce back against Newcastle who are unbeaten since the first match between these sides on 27th December. This match will be shown on BT Sport on Saturday at 5:30 and huge questions will be asked about how both sides will line up.
As mentioned, The Citizens suffered their first domestic defeat against Liverpool who, in a ten minute period, were blown away by the attacking trio of Mané, Firmino and Salah. Yet, CIty have been in imperial form this season and look like Premier League champions already, even before the January transfer window has closed. The attacking prowess of Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sané (the list goes on) means that any defence who try to nullify this threat are often breached because of the sheer number of attacking players.
It is likely that Manchester City will line up much like they did in the match at St James Park, with little thought for their defensive responsibilities. Dominating possession is a key feature of Pep Guardiola teams and this game will be no different. Newcastle have not found The Etihad a happy hunting ground recently with their last game resulting in a 6-1 defeat, courtesy of a Sergio Aguero masterclass, who netted five goals.
A decent return of seven points from four games over Christmas meant Newcastle began to look up the table rather than down. However, a poor home draw against Swansea and fresh takeover “news” dominating public attention this week has lead to yet more uncertainty over the future of manager Rafa Benitez. Whatever may be the result of this, what is certain is that Newcastle face a huge up hill battle against a City side who are itching to notch up another victory.
Huge criticism from certain “pundits” was placed on Newcastle for their tactics in the match just after Christmas. However, despite what they would lead you to believe, these tactics came very close to ending City’s marathon victory streak. Crystal Palace, a week later, adopted similar tactics and with the extra quality of Wilfried Zaha, almost ended City’s unbeaten run. It is clear that very similar defensive tactics will be in play this weekend and it will be interesting to hear the opinions of “pundits” this weekend should Newcastle come close to matching Man City this week. Whatever the set up, if Newcastle could reproduce a similar performance to their 2014 Capital One Cup victory at The Etihad, then this week of turmoil would be ended on a very sweet note.
Traditionally, Rafa Benitez sets his sides up to be difficult to beat and this Newcastle side is no different. Despite going down 4-1 against Manchester United, Newcastle took the lead in that game and have very rarely suffered big defeats this season. Therefore, it is unlikely that this will be a high scoring affair and with Manchester City eager to prove any doubters they have wrong, I believe another 1-0 victory for City will be the result on Saturday.