You would be hard pressed to find anyone who realistically thinks Newcastle has a shot of winning this match given the pure dominance being asserted by Manchester City at the moment. City are coming into the match having won 6 in a row, with 5 of those games resulting in them scoring at least 3 goals. Additionally, for half of those wins, City elected to rest key players and essentially played their “B-team”.
Newcastle on the other hand are coming off of an arguably embarrassing loss in the FA Cup against Watford after winning 2 straight matches. After playing very good football against Cardiff, Newcastle found themselves playing nearly unwatchable football against Watford that featured them failing to create a single chance in the first half against a Watford side with 11 changes.
Newcastle look to improve on such a performance in their match against City, but it is no secret that Newcastle will look to defend rather than create many chances. Pep Guardiola even commented on this saying he expects Newcastle to defend well, but he believes Manchester City will “attack better”.
In the previous match Newcastle almost snuck away with a point at the Ethiad after DeAndre Yedlin scored his first goal for the club to tie the match at 1. The goal came too early, as 20 minutes later Kyle Walker scored to give Manchester City the win.
The previous match was a tactical chess match that relied on disciplined defense from all 10 outfield players for Newcastle that saw them absorbing pressure by putting nearly everyone behind the ball at all times. The match resulted in Manchester city having 24 shots, and almost 80% of possession. Martin Dubravka had 6 saves, and Newcastle will need more of the same in order to keep an impressive goal differential.
If Newcastle were able to somehow pull off a win, they could possibly jump as high as 14th in the table which would give them some much needed breathing room in a relegation dogfight. Even a point, which is somewhat more realistic, could push them as high as 15th.
Newcastle will again be without Dummett (Hamstring), Shelvey (Thigh), Diame (Hip), Ki (Hamstring) and Darlow (Elbow). Additionally it was revealed today that Joselu twisted his ankle against Watford and will not be available for the Manchester City Match. This leaves Newcastle with one true striker on their roster in Salomon Rondon. Ayoze Perez of course has the ability to play striker, and Cal Roberts does as well, but both are better suited for other positions. Muto is still on international duty as Japan continues their success in the Asia Cup.
Manchester city have only a few injuries, and will be able to field a full strength lineup against Newcastle. City will be without Mendy (Knee), Bravo (Achilles) and their captain Kompany (Muscle).
Projected Lineups and Prediction
Newcastle will likely field as strong of a lineup as they can, given the amount of injuries they have. I would be shocked to see Kenedy start, as he has been woeful in his past few appearances, and was easily one of the worst players in the Watford Cup Match. The true question concerning this lineup is whether or not Rafa will play Jamaal Lascelles or not. Fernandez, Lejeune, and Schar have been the best 3 centerbacks for Newcastle this season, and after Lascelles recent matches it is hard to justify his continued first team selection. Lascelles is of course the team captain, and is expected to start every match, but Rafa does believe in playing the best players possible and loves a good competition for places in the team.
Manchester City will likely not hold back with their lineup against Newcastle. It would be shocking to see them put out anything less than their first team, as they are accumulating as many points as possible in order to close the gap between them and Liverpool. Manchester City does play Arsenal later this week, but that match up isn’t until Sunday and many of the key first team players got to rest this past weekend during their 5-0 pounding of Burnley in the FA Cup. It seems as if Newcastle might have to endure another dreadful match up against Sergio Aguero, who has 14 goals in 12 matches against Newcastle.
Newcastle Projected Lineup (5-4-1/3-4-3) - Dubravka, Ritchie, Lejeune, Lascelles, Schar, Yedlin, Perez, Hayden, Longstaff, Atsu, Rondon
Manchester City Projected Lineup (4-3-3) - Ederson, Walker, Stones, Laporte, Danillo, D.Silva, De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Sterling, Aguero, Sane
This is a match that is likely to be more interesting because of the rumored protests rather than the match itself. Expect Newcastle to see very little of the ball and have 2-3 chances, while Man City fire at least 15 shots at Dubravka. Newcastle would be extremely lucky to get a point, and even luckier to score. You could argue there is a higher chance of my dog learning how to drive, than Newcastle actually winning this match.
Newcastle should lose this one, but I doubt the focus will be on that. All eyes will be on the Newcastle fan base as they plan use this national stage to send a message to Mike Ashley.
Prediction: 0-2 (Man City win)