EPL Match Preview: Manchester City vs Newcastle United
Venue: Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England
Kick-off: 3pm GMT, Saturday
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Manchester United‘s early kick-off means that Manchester City can go into the game facing an 18-point deficit from the runaway leaders. On Saturday, they go up against Newcastle United, a side that has been decimated in recent weeks by added bodies on the injury list yet again.
Manchester City never kicked into top gear this season with too many players falling short of making an impression when called upon to do so. While their backline have held firm, they have so far struggled mightily going forward. David Silva and Samir Nasri both have had off seasons, while Yaya Toure’s form has dipped from the standard he had set for himself last season.
It will now only take a near-miracle for the blue half of Manchester to launch any sort of title challenge. However, with pride and an automatic qualification spot for next year’s Champions League still up for grabs, there should be no shortage of motivation for the men in blue. This particular tie has been one of City’s favourites and the Citizens should be confident of carving out a win against the Magpies, having won their last 5 meetings and 10 of their past 12 encounters in the Premier League.
Newcastle, on the other hand, have injuries galore. Their paper-thin squad has been stretched this season because of their involvement in the Europa League and the result is a point tally of 33 from 30 games, only good enough for 13th position on the table. Having fielded a total of 31 players throughout the season (highest in the division), the Tynesiders have lacked the consistency and chemistry that saw them finish 5th last season.
However, Newcastle have been on a good run in the league recently with 4 wins in their last 7 games. The new faces brought into the squad in January certainly have had an impact on the results, with the likes Moussa Sissoko, Yoan Gouffran, Mathieu Debuchy and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa adding a new dimension to the team. This recent turn of form has seen them steer clear of immediate trouble and helped create a six-point buffer between them and the dreaded relegation zone.
Pardew may have one eye on their midweek Europa league Quarter-Final against Benfica, but no one will blame him if he chooses to give the EPL games all his attention rather than gunning for European glory. Any point away to Manchester City will provide their cause as well as confidence a shot in the arm heading into the final stretch of games.
Manchester City have dropped eight points in their last six and seven points in their last seven home games. This indifferent form of late has resulted in them dropping out of the championship race.
However, on Saturday they face one of their favourite opponents in the form of Newcastle. They have defeated the Magpies 14 times in the Premier league era and have come out on top on all four occasions that they have met at the Etihad. A win in this game would certainly go a long way in helping to erase the memories of the 2 goal loss at the hands of Everton a fortnight ago.
Newcastle’s away form has been downright atrocious this season. Their only win away from St. James’ Park came earlier this year in January at Villa Park. However, that was followed by three straight losses in away games at the hands of Tottenham, Swansea and Wigan. Away luck deserted them last time around at Wigan as well where they fell prey to two bad decisions from Mark Halsey, resulting in them ending up on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline.
Only Reading (5) have claimed fewer points away from home than Newcastle(8) this season. With not much of a history to fall back upon for the Magpies in this fixture, they would happily take back a point home especially considering the long list of players unavailable for the contest.
The biggest concern for City heading into the game is the health of their skipper Vincent Kompany. The Belgian international, who had been out for eight weeks with an injured calf, angered Roberto Mancini when he flew off to represent his national team against the Italian’s wishes. His involvement in this game will be subject to a fitness test prior to the game.
Micah Richards and Jack Rodwell will be unavailable for City while Sergio Aguero will make a return after being out for three weeks with knee trouble.
Alan Pardew got more harsh news on the injury front with the name of Cheikh Tiote being added to the long list of unavailable players. The Ivory Coast international joins Newcastle’s triplet of wing backs – Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haidara and Davide Santon – who were also ruled out for the trip to Etihad earlier in the week.
These three names join the already prolonged list of long-term absentees for Newcastle in the form of Fabricio Coloccini, Tim Krul, Ryan Tayolor, Haris Vuckic and Hatem Ben Arfa.
1- Newcastle have only won one EPL game against Manchester City (P32 W1 D11 L20) in September 2000 (1-0).
3- Yaya Touré has scored three of City’s last five Premier League goals against Newcastle.
8- Newcastle have lost 8 of their last 10 away matches.
10- The defending champions are 10 points and 20 goals worse off than at the same stage last season.
30- Manchester City have scored only 30 goals from open play this season, just two more than Newcastle.