Saturday sees the return of a Newcastle United match-day after the misery of watching other sides doing their upmost to progress in The FA Cup last weekend, how short-sighted of them to risk Premier League stability for a competitions that offers little economic reward, the mind boggles! We go into this match looking for our first win at this stadium in the league, although we did manage to win there this season in The League Cup (Premier League is all that matters though, right?).
It will be interesting to see how John Carver will set up the side this game, especially in the wake of what happened at Selhurst Park, with one Twitter follower describing his approach to the final 20 minutes against Palace as being ‘like we were down to nine men in the Champions League Final against Real Madrid’. It’s difficult to see us getting anything from this game in particular if we try to absorb the pressure from City without offering a counter attacking outlet, indeed the key to the victory here this season was due to the counter attacking threat offered by Obertan and Aarons on the flanks; surely the Frenchman will be pencilled in for a start in this game with that in mind. The back 4 picks itself due to the sheer greed of those upstairs, whereas if Palace taught us anything it is that Sissoko is far more effective from a more advanced position and Gouffran should never ever ever play in the ‘number 10’ role again; it’s hard to think of a player less suited infact.
City come into this game on the back of some topsy turvy form given their high standards, with an impressive 4-1 sweeping away of Stoke in their own backyard coming immediately after a lacklustre 1-1 draw with Hull. They will most likely be handing a debut to £30 million signing Wilfried Bony fresh from success in the African Cup of Nations, who will surely be licking his lips at the prospect of facing Williamson. It could well be that this team has one eye on the upcoming tie with Barcelona with Manuel Pellegrini’s remit to improve City’s standing in European competition facing an acid test, it’s highly possible he will be shown the door at the end of the season if they fail to get past The Catalans; perhaps some of their players may have their eye off the ball in this one although I don’t expect them to rest anybody.
Likely Line Ups
City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Mangala, Kolarov; Milner, Fernando, Toure, Silva; Bony, Aguero
United: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara; Abeid, Colback; Obertan, Sissoko, Cabella; Ayoze
City 0 Newcastle United 2 – An unlikely but welcome win at the Etihad where a fantastic battling performance was met with genuine counter attacking threat, an early goal from Aarons was followed by a delicate finish from Sissoko; with a blatant trip on Obertan in the box sandwiched inbetween. Well deserved.
City 4 Newcastle 0 – A miserable opening day performance which wasn’t helped by Yohan Cabaye apparently refusing to depart the team bus upon hearing of a bid from Arsenal, Steven Taylor was also sent off towards the end of the first half for pure daftness but in truth the game was already lost at that point on a night where Silva and Aguero ran rings around us.