Newcastle United visit Manchester City on Saturday hoping to spring a major surprise against the reigning Premier League champions.
The Magpies have had a miserable start to the new season, picking up just one point against Cardiff City from their opening three games.
Wednesday’s dismal 3-1 defeat in the Carabao Cup against Nottingham Forest hasn’t helped the mood around the club and things don’t get any easier over the next few weeks.
With games against Arsenal (H), Crystal Palace (A) and Leicester City (H) to come after the international break, Newcastle could find themselves in a spot of bother if they don’t start picking up points soon.
Captain Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie should return to the squad at the Etihad Stadium, while Jonjo Shelvey could also come back into contention.
Kevin De Bruyne and Claudio Bravo remain sidelined for City with long term injuries. Danilo is also expected to be absent.
Manager Rafa Benitez has come in for plenty of criticism over his tactics, with the Magpies adopting a defensive formation against Chelsea at St James’ Park last Sunday.
It is unlikely that he will alter his approach at City, particularly with the Pep Guardiola’s side such a potent force on home soil.
The Etihad has been an unhappy hunting ground for Newcastle, who have won just twice there since the turn of the century. They have lost on each of their previous nine visits, conceding 32 goals and scoring just six times.
City star Sergio Aguero proved to be a thorn in Newcastle’s side in the corresponding fixture last season, bagging a hat-trick in the home team’s 3-1 victory.
The striker has scored 14 goals against the Magpies, a record for goals against an opponent for a single club.
Having grabbed another treble against Huddersfield Town in City’s last home game, Newcastle will need to be on their guard against the Argentinian.
Newcastle will take heart from the fact that City struggled in De Bruyne’s absence to break down Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.
City are rightly big favourites to pick up three points on Saturday, but an early goal for Newcastle could help to cast some doubts amongst the home side.