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Is today the day Newcastle finally beats Manchester City?

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Newcastle United face Manchester City at the Etihad in the fourth round of the League Cup. Can they finally exorcise their Manchester City demons?

Stu Forster

EDIT: So I read the fixtures wrong. The match is on Wednesday, not Tuesday. I'm leaving this up as a lesson to you all: Reading is fundamental.

The chances of Newcastle United beating Manchester City in today's League Cup match are about the same as that of Lloyd Christmas and Mary Swanson getting together. That's something, though, and it's enough to make Lee Ryder (and others, to be fair) dare to dream out loud. (The Chronicle) The realist in me is telling myself not to get my hopes up (don't worry, that's not happening), but maybe there's a way forward for the Toon at the Etihad.

Since their return to the Premier League, Newcastle has been owned by Manchester City. They've lost all nine league matches to the Citizens by a combined score of 4-25. Expand that out to all competitions, including a 0-2 loss in extra time in this very round last season, and the total becomes 11 straight losses, with the aggregate now at 5-29. They haven't scored more than one goal in any of those fixtures, and that's even if you count Cheik Tioté's wrongly disallowed tally from last season.

There's a clear trend here, and it's down to more than just team quality, though it is that, too. Alan Pardew has notoriously turtled his squad against City with disastrous results. It's not clear which is the chicken and which is the egg - surely Pardew employs a negative tactic because of City's quality, and there's little doubt that they then take advantage of a favorable scoring environment. What's the word for that emblem of the snake eating its own tail? I'm just going to call it a Pardew.

To be fair to the gaffer, Newcastle played a more positive style in the season opener this year, and if they're going to have a chance today, they've got to stretch the pitch. On one level, it seems counterintuitive against a team like Manchester City that possesses team speed in spades. However, running isolation plays and giving individuals a chance to shine has been the one successful, if inconsistent, gambit Pardew's side has been able to execute over the last several months. (That, and somehow convincing the other team to stop pressing against the back line.) Sitting back and waiting for counter opportunities will almost always end badly against the team in baby blue. Last time out, they demonstrated that they know that. Here's hoping Pardew sticks to the script.

There won't be a soul that watches today's match that will have any doubts about which team is better. However, City are coming off of a shocking loss to West Ham and a disappointing performance against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, and it's not a stretch to say they'll be looking forward to this weekend's derby. Newcastle's last two wins, while deceptive, have nevertheless given the players a much-needed boost of confidence. They'll need to defend with at least as much chutzpah as they showed on Sunday, when they blocked 7 shots and 6 crosses, and will need to be flawless on the other side of the pitch as well to even have a fighting chance.

Like Lloyd Christmas and Lee Ryder, though, I'm focusing on the 1, not the 999,999. So you're telling me there's a chance?