I can’t lie, I’m dreading this one – based on a combination of our predicament both on and off the pitch and the sheer quality of opponent we’re set to face.
This marauding Man City side have scored 30 goals in their last seven games in all competitions – averaging over 4 a game. We, however, have managed just 19 all season in the Premier League – scoring three league goals for the first in our win over Cardiff just over a week ago.
It’s going to be a backs to the wall job where we’ll be lucky to see more than 25% of the ball and a night where every single player in black and white will have to carry out their role to perfection if we’re to stand a chance here.
We’ve often played 5 at the back, but had Perez and Atsu either side of Rondon, however I see both ‘wingers’ playing just ahead of our wing backs in this one, with us likely to put 10 men behind the ball.
With Ki, Shelvey and Diame all out, Hayden and Longstaff will almost certain to start in midfield. After all, they are our ONLY fit central midfielders.
On that note, Rondon is also our only available striker with Joselu injured, Gayle out on loan and Muto at the Asian Cup – yet we don’t even own him.
A reminder that we’re the ’19th richest club in the world’, yet this is what Rafa’s dealing with..
Predicted NUFC XI – (5-4–1) – Dubravka– Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie – Perez, Longstaff, Hayden, Atsu – Rondon.
In this section I usually pick out the ‘ones to watch’, but in all honesty there’s not a player in this City side who won’t pose a threat.
Aguero’s record against us is incredible, wingers Sterling and Sane are devastating and will drift infield as their wing-backs overlap and, in central areas, the likes of De Buryne, Bernando Silva and David Silva will be the playmakers pulling the strings. What’s scary is their centre-back Aymeric Laporte is probably a better footballer than most of our attackers..
Predicted Man City XI – (4-3-3) Ederson – Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Danilo – D.Silva, Fernandinho, B.Silva – Sterling, Aguero, Sane.
Shelvey, Diame and Dummett have all been ruled out once again by Rafa, although it sounds like all three and Ki aren’t TOO far away from returning.
Joselu will also miss out with a twisted ankle.
For City, Kompany is unavailable and left-back Mendy is being ‘monitored’ after making his long-awaited comeback last week.
This is a Man City side that win 3-0 on a ‘bad day’, so that combined with our woeful record at St James’ Park is pretty damning.
We won our last league game at home convincingly vs Cardiff, but the lack of transfer activity since then and the pitiful FA Cup performance against Watford over the weekend has killed any momentum we created.
I’m just hoping this isn’t an absolute hammering. I don’t expect us to score and would be surprised if we had more than a handful of shots on target, but I think Rafa’s tactics will help stave off a cricket score.
Prediction: Newcastle 0-3 Man City
Howay the lads!