Newcastle head to Manchester to take on reigning Premier League Champions Manchester City at the Etihad tomorrow afternoon.
For me this is one of those “write off” games where I’m not expecting anything but if we do manage to grab a point or three it will be more than a welcome bonus.
The task is tough. City have quality all over the pitch and even though they’ve looked poor in recent weeks and have seen any chance of retaining their title shrink to just a slim glimmer of hope as their city rivals seemingly run away with things, the fact is that we’ve NEVER won at the Etihad and you have to go back to the year 2000 to find the last time we managed a win at Manchester City’s old ground.
Of course anything can happen in football and all that, but Manchester City will be overwhelming favourites for this and need to win to maintain any hope of prolonging their chase of Manchester United for another week. Perhaps the added pressure could would in our favour? I don’t know, but an unexpected point or three wouldn’t go amiss as we look to put some distance between ourselves and those scrapping it out in the relegation mix.
Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany are all available after recovering from injury ensuring Roberto Mancini has virtually a full squad to choose from.
Alan Pardew has somewhat of a selection headache when it comes to the full back positions on both sides of the pitch. Davide Santon, Mathieu Debuchy and, luckily for not as long as was first feared, Massadio Haidara are all missing so I’m assuming we’ll see Danny Simpson at right-back with Jonas Gutierrez at left-back.
Cheik Tiote is also unavailable although given the way he’s been playing since he started believing his own hype I’m not sure whether his absence is a good thing or a bad thing.
Tim Krul is back in training but won’t be considered for selection while Fabricio Coloccini is back on Tyneside but still approximately three weeks away from full fitness. Hatem Ben Arfa is still out although may not have to go under the knife to cure his hamstring problem whilst Ryan Taylor and Haris Vuckic remain out.
City won the reverse fixture 3-1 at St James’ park just before Christmas and in truth it was pretty comfortable for them, so a win tomorrow would complete City’s third consecutive league double over us.
Recently we’ve been poor against City. Of course that has been aided by the increase in the ability of players they have at their disposal, but overall we still hold the advantage when it comes to head-to-head records. There have been 166 games between the two sides. United have won 70, City have won 58 with the other 38 ending in a draw.
Stats and facts:
Mike Williamson could make his 100th appearance for United.
Manchester City have lost just once at home this season and have conceded a league-lowest 11 goals at home. To add to that, City have the best defensive record in the entire league as things stand.
Newcastle have kept one clean sheet in their last 12 league games.
United have conceded 35 second-half goals this term. Only Aston Villa have conceded more (37) in the second half of matches.
Anything is a bonus really for me. I don’t expect anything but if we turn up and play to our potential then you just never know. I’m not banking on any points though so as long as we give a good account of ourselves against a team that has undoubted within its ranks I’ll be happy enough.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 30th March, 2013
Venue: The Etihad Stadium