Newcastle United host Manchester City in their opening match of the 2014-15 Premier League season. Newcastle fans are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming campaign after a relatively successful transfer window, while City will be looking to defend their title.
Newcastle and City kicked their seasons off against each other last year as well. The result at the Etihad was a 0-4 thrashing that none of us should want to revisit. The return fixture was a 0-2 defeat for the Toon, but it featured a Cheik Tiote goal that was wrongly disallowed while the score was still level. Since their return to the Premier League, Newcastle have lost all 8 of their ties with City, with a combined score of 4-23.
Papiss Cisse is still recovering from his fractured patella and will be unavailable, as expected. Davide Santon also has a knee injury and is out until at least September. Ryan Taylor is listed as unavailable by all of the journalists that cover the team, even though he has returned to training following his ACL injury over a year ago. The big news for the Toon is that Siem de Jong and Cheik Tiote will miss this week with what were originally classed as "minor" injuries.
Manuel Pellegrini has several players that are seeking match fitness, including Vincent Kompany, Bacary Sagna, and Kun Aguero. New signing Eliaquim Mangala has already been ruled out as he is integrated into the team. Alvaro Negredo, who is nursing a foot injury, is the only other player certain to miss out for the Citizens.
Alan Pardew always turtles against Manchester City, hoping to grab a counter. It never works, and Newcastle always give up at least 3 goals anyway. We could hope for something different, but that would be rather foolish. An extremely defensive shape is likely.
One of the reasons for City’s consistent success against the Toon, aside from the gulf in class, is that they will press everywhere for 90 minutes, something the Newcastle players have never been able to deal with very well.
After a season of change at St James' Park, expect everything to be the same on Sunday.
Pardew's lineup in the final preseason match looks rather predictive:
Krul | Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Haïdara | Sissoko, Anita, Colback, Gouffran | Cabella | Rivière
Pellegrini won't publicly commit to Joe Hart, but Caballero hasn't exactly earned a start. Guessing that Agüero will be held out.
Hart | Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov | Fernandinho, Touré | Silva, Jovetic, Nasri | Dzeko
Given the Toon's history against City, I can't very well predict anything but a loss. I was feeling relatively optimistic a week ago; less so now that de Jong and Tiote are unavailable. 1-3 to City.