A red card from Mathieu Debuchy sent Newcastle on their way to a disappointing 1-0 loss against West Brom, and they host Manchester City desperately looking to get back to winning ways.
Newcastle fans will be praying that they can fend off interest from Arsenal, and keep hold of the services of playmaker Yohan Cabaye. The Frenchman has been in scintillating form this term, with his passing in particular a joy to behold. This excellent ability of his was on show again against the Baggies, as he completed a total of 29 passes in the opposition half – 11 more than any other Newcastle player. Cabaye is 14/1 with 888sport.com to score the first goal at the weekend.
Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye have formed a formidable central midfield partnership over the last few years, with Tiote the foil to Cabaye’s more creative instincts. Tiote produced another swashbuckling display against the Baggies, protecting the back four by completing an impressive 75% of his challenges. Tiote has certainly shown his willingness to get stuck in this campaign, as no other player in the Newcastle squad has attempted as many tackles as Tiote’s 90.
If Newcastle are to breach the top 6, then they’ll need the mercurial Hatem Ben Arfa to perform to his brilliant best. The Frenchman has been on the bench in recent weeks, but he still manages to top the Newcastle table regarding dribbles completed (43). After losing two games on the bounce, manager Alan Pardew may look to roll the dice and bring the talented midfielder back into the fold.
Mathieu Debuchy’s absence will be sorely felt by Newcastle in the next three games following his reckless red card, the Frenchman has been one of the Magpies most consistent performers. The EA SPORTS Player Performance Index shows that he has made a total of 207 defensive contributions this term (based on blocks, tackles won, interceptions and clearances), which is the most in the Newcastle squad.
As we pass over the halfway point in the season Manchester City look like they’re hitting top gear, winning five games on the bounce. Critics have argued that their away form is what is letting them down, and they face a stern test as they head to St James’ Park.
One player who has really impressed in this time is midfielder Fernandinho, who looks like he’s starting to get to grips with the Premier League. He produced a barnstorming display against Swansea scoring and also protecting the back four with aplomb. His defensive capabilities are most evident through the fact that he made the most interceptions in the Manchester City squad (3), and also attempted the most challenges (7). Fernandinho has been impressive defensively all term, as he has completed a total of 131 defensive contributions, more than any other Manchester City player.
Samir Nasri has been in fine form all season, and this was no different against Swansea as he produced another eye-catching display. The Frenchman struggled at times last campaign, following his well-publicised fallout with Roberto Mancini, but he has undergone a rejuvenation under Manuel Pellegrini, managing to keep the brilliant David Silva out of the team at times. The Frenchman was in fine form again against Swansea, as he completed a pass in the opposition half at a rate of a pass every 2.5 minutes.
Sergio Aguero has hit the headlines this term as he has produced numerous match-winning displays, but one player who has been slightly overlooked is central midfielder Yaya Toure. Toure has become a real fans favourite since his arrival at the Etihad, and he has certainly been a midfield maverick in front of goal this campaign, hitting the back of the net a total of 10 times – more than any midfielder, and the third most in the league. Toure is 15/2 with 888sport.com to score the first goal at the weekend.
Edin Dzeko may not have started as many games as he would have liked this campaign, with Manuel Pellegrini favouring the strike partnership of Negredo and Aguero. In the opportunities he has had though, Dzeko has shown an eagerness to take shots at goal, with the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index showing that he averages a shot every 24 minutes.