This is most probably not going to be another 3-3 draw, folks. Just get out of that mindset because 1) Newcastle have not scored three goals since Dec. 26 against Leicester and 2) Man City have not allowed anyone to score three or more goals on them since they completed a 6-3 win against fellow Mancunians of United all the way back on Oct. 2.
The Pep Men are coming off an easy 3-0 victory over minnows from Bristol City in the FA cup last Tuesday, so yeah, they’re pretty much coming rested even though they had to play that matchup on the road a few days ago.
The Howe Lads are coming off a sad, depressing, hurting, but encouraging 0-2 defeat to Man Utd last Sunday in the Carabao Cup final. Sucks, but you gotta move on quickly and you have to stay strong.
With the Premier League season entering into its final third segment of the year but still kinda young, Newcastle can’t rest on their laurels even though they have already (nearly) staved off relegation threats as we’ve barely reached March.
The Magpies would need to put on an absolutely mad bad series of results to drop down below 10th, which was Amanda Staveley’s and the rest of the Saudi board target for the season. Should they be happy with such a finish? No. Not at all. Not after the first half of the season they’ve put together and their very realistic chances of getting into continental-football places.
If we’re honest, the last results have been at least a bit concerning. In the EPL, where xG are tracked by FBref.com, the Magpies have logged 2+ goals based on the model in just three games since returning from the World Cup. They have limited all teams they have faced from late August (with the exception of Liverpool on Feb. 18) to fewer than two xGA.
The last team, other than the Reds a couple of weeks ago, to get a 2+ xGA against NUFC? Man City in the reverse game all the way back on Aug. 21 when Pep’s mob hit 2.1 to Newcastle’s 1.8 xG.
The problem is that this calendar year, in six Premier League games played to date, our boys haven’t outperformed their xG even once. They most they did was tie it in the MD22 matchup against West Ham when they scored one goal to their expected 1.0 xG. Four of the other five games played between the start of January and the end of February saw NUFC finish with a G-xG difference of -1.0 or more, which is to say they should have scored at least one more goal than they did on those days. Ugh.
They say defenses win championships. Newcastle, sadly (for now), isn’t playing for championships these days. They are playing for points and great position ahead of next season. The best way to make it there? Bagging goals in bunches, which right now is just not happening.
Let’s hope things begin to revert soon enough... and why not start that trend today?
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before today’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Citizens are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Manquillo (knee), Pope (suspended)
- Doubtful: Targett (foot)
- First things first: Nick Pope is not available so the folks over FotMob.com should check their suspended-player files. Contrary to what happened in the Carabao Cup, for which Martin Dubravka was cup-tied after playing for Man Utd earlier this season, there are no issues blocking him (pun intended) from starting today under the Magpies goalposts. Pencil him in.
- Eddie Howe doesn’t need to rotate players anymore because Newcastle have now entered the last stretch of the season (even though it’s three months and 15 games left) and have no more games other than Premier League matchups on their schedule.
- That could mean two things: Howe plays his oft-seen stubborn self and keeps running with the XI he’s used all year long, or Howe starts to use Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon more and more putting them into the rotation on solid roles.
- I have to believe it’s going to be the latter option, even more considering the shaky form of the team in the Premier League of late and the need for some fresh air and better results if the lads want to really clinch a Champions/Europa League berth.
- With Callum Wilson struggling mightily after the World Cup, he’s just going to have to accept a bench role at least until Isak proves he’s atrocious himself at bagging goals. What better day to start Isak than today, against Man City, on their own lawn at the Etihad?
- I guess Allan Saint-Maximin has done enough of late to merit a start, and he could very well get it. I won’t be mad if that happens and ASM gets the starting call instead of Anthony Gordon. But please, Howe, start to use Gordon as soon as possible because we’re going to need some vitality and new ideas out there. Whether it comes on a starting gig or an off-the-pine cameo, I expect—and demand!—to watch Gordon for more than 30 minutes today.
- The defense isn’t going to change any time soon, let alone against a freaking behemoth like Man City on a Saturday at lunchtime. There’s just no way it happens, so fuhgeddaboudit.
- Joe Willock played on a leg last Sunday and Bruno left the pitch banged up a bit. Are they fully fit and available to start today? Maybe, maybe not. With this being Man City and Wolves coming next week, I’d bet on Bruno playing from the get-go even if not at 100% with Willock coming off the bench late in replacement of the more industrial and physical Joelinton.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Joelinton
WNG Almiron - Gordon
TEAM NEWS— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 4, 2023
XI | Ederson, Walker, Akanji, Dias, Ake, Rodrigo, De Bruyne, Gundogan (C), Foden, Grealish, Haaland
SUBS | Ortega Moreno, Phillips, Stones, Laporte, Alvarez, Bernardo, Mahrez, Palmer, Lewis#ManCity | @HaysWorldwide pic.twitter.com/DVUylaQqd1
- Date: Saturday, March 4th
- Kick-off: 12:30 BST / 7:30 EST
- Location: Etihad Stadium, Manchester (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — nbcsports.com, SiriusXM FC, NBC Sports App, UNIVERSO NOW, Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, USA Network, UNIVERSO (USA) — BT Sport Ultimate, BT Sport App, TalkSport Radio UK, BT Sport 1, BTSport.com (UK)
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Howay the Lads!