Like the Christmas dinner we spend hours preparing and minutes eating, this one’s going to be short but sweet. Hopefully the result will be too, but don’t bank on a marauding Man City handing us the Christmas gifts West Ham did just a few days ago.
The win over the Hammers was huge. It stopped the rot, lifted us out of the relegation zone and gave Rafa and the boys a much needed boost ahead of a busy and relentless festive period.
Fortunately, results have also gone our way on Boxing Day. Whilst several sides in the bottom half picked up a point, not a single side got all three – meaning no real ground has been made on us in a game week we honestly aren’t expecting much out of.
Some much needed positivity has been taken from our gutsy 3-2 win at West Ham on Saturday – a much needed result that gave us a Merry Christmas – however this is a game where expectation must be managed.
Man City are quite possibly the most impressive Premier League side we’ve seen in the last decade. They’ve won 18 and drawn one of their 19 games so far this season, so we’re going to have to be at our best to compete with them – and even then it could be quite convincing.
With this is mind, lets just get behind the boys no matter what. This isn’t a game that will define our season and feels like a bit more of a free hit after Saturday’s win (and the results following), so lets get behind them and give Benitez and the boys the support they deserve (and need!) against an outstanding City side who’ll show no mercy.
Saturday’s game against Brighton is the big one. Yes this is a crack at some potential points and we should give it a real good go, but some atmosphere’s at St James’ have become slightly toxic recently and I’d hate to see any unnecessary negativity knock the boys back before Brighton.
The team that started vs West Ham – (4-4-2) Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo – Ritchie, Diame, Saivet, Atsu, – Joselu, Gayle.
Funny one here. This team deserves another crack after a big performance at West Ham, but we have to play 3 games in just over 5 days and Rafa is almost certain to rotate.
Where will those changes come?
Diame and Saivet did superbly on Saturday, working well together and both getting on the scoresheet, but I’d be highly surprised if there’s not big changes in midfield. Merino and Hayden look set to return from knocks and Shelvey is back from suspension, so there’s three fresh sets of fresh legs there – and we’ll need endless amount of energy to keep at a Man City side who’ll be sure to move us about.
Another tough one, but Atsu might make way here. Unfortunate, as he was our stand out performer at West Ham and looked back to his best, however he’s had the odd injury issue and Rafa may have one eye on Brighton to rest him. Murphy or Aarons to be given a chance to show what they can do?
4-4-2 worked well at West Ham in a game where we found a better balance between attack and defence, however I can’t see past 4-2-3-1 here and the return of Ayoze Perez. Dwight Gayle to make way? He’s our goal threat and is getting back to his best, but we’ll have little of the ball and Joselu may be the man trusted to hold it up best he can.
They need no introduction really. City’s plethora of talent is devastating, with so many of their stars delivering this season.
De Bruyne and Silva will look to hurt us from central areas, with both possessing ridiculous vision and guile, whilst Sterling and Sane out wide likely to offer an ever present out ball and goal threat in behind.
Up top it’ll more than likely be Sergio Aguero – the man who has SEVEN goals in his last three games against NUFC..
Newcastle – 15th (15 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 1 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 4
Man City – 1st – (55 pts) – Last 5 in the league / Won: 5 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 0
Shelvey is available once again after completing a two-game suspension. Merino and Hayden missed West Ham with ‘knocks’ but Benitez seemed hopeful that they’d return for this one.
Lejeune is a major doubt whilst Mitrovic and Gamez have been ruled out by Rafa. No news on Dummett, but he must be getting close to a return?
No new injuries to report in the Manchester City camp, but rotation is likely in the midst of this busy festive schedule.
John Stones is nearing a return but he won’t be back in time for this one.
Newcastle XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Manquillo – Merino, Hayden – Ritchie, Perez, Murphy, Joselu
Man City XI – (4-3-3) – Ederson – Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph – De Bruyne, Fernandinho, D. Silva – Sterling, Aguro, Sane.
Aside from our valiant effort in last year’s 1-1 draw with City under Rafa, our last two meetings have led to pretty emphatic City wins (11-1 aggregate). This one’s not at the Etihad however..
We’ll be coming into this one with some renewed confidence, but the gulf in class between the two playing squads is quite huge.
City have been an unstoppable force this season, and whilst I expect a decent atmosphere and a big effort, I don’t think it’ll be enough.
They’ve won EVERY single away game so far this season and I can’t see us stopping them – they’ve won 17 on the spin so it’s going to take something special to stop them.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-3 Man City
Howay the lads!
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.