On the back of some shaky recent form, Manchester City will be determined to secure all three points when they host Newcastle at the Etihad on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
City come into the match on the back of just one victory in their last five league matches, and just four in their last 10 fixtures in all competitions. They are second in the Premier League table, with 52 points from 15 wins, seven draws and three defeats.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were 4-1 victors away at Stoke last Wednesday, with their superior finishing somewhat exaggerating the difference between the sides. Sergio Aguero scored twice (once from the penalty spot), while James Milner and Samir Nasri got the others. After some lacklustre recent results, it felt like a much-needed release for the players.
Best Match Betting Odds
2/7 Man City (Coral, BetVictor, SkyBet, Betfred, William Hill, Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook)
5/1 Draw (BetVictor, Betfred)
11/1 Newcastle (BetVictor, Betfred, Unibet, Betfair Sportsbook)
Much of Man City’s play is based on working players in behind to provide cutbacks into the area. Their median open-play shot distance is the third lowest in the league this season. While this approach does create high-quality opportunities, it takes both patience and pinpoint execution to make it work week after week.
The January signing of Wilfried Bony (pictured) from Swansea suggests that City do recognise the need for an alternative and more robust approach in certain situations, and it will be interesting to see how he fits in. With Edin Dzeko struggling for form this season, Bony could be the strong central focal point around which City’s more intricate play can be built.
Pellegrini has no confirmed injury absentees. Aguero picked up a back injury in the win over Stoke but is expected to recover in time to make the squad.
Newcastle come into the match on the back of a poor run of form that has seen them pick up just three victories in their last 15 matches in all competitions. They are 11th in the Premier League table, with 32 points from eight wins, eight draws and nine defeats.
John Carver’s men drew 1-1 away to the Crystal Palace side of ex-Magpies boss Alan Pardew last Wednesday. Papiss Cisse gave them the lead just before half-time, but they showed little ambition thereafter and it came as little surprise when Palace equalised with 20 minutes remaining. It took an excellent late save from Tim Krul to secure them a point.
It was a third match unbeaten for the Magpies but hardly a performance that will have inspired much confidence ahead of the remainder of a campaign in which the club have been steadfastly average. They sit right in the middle of the table, 12 points off the European places and 10 above the bottom three, while they have already been eliminated from both cups.
Carver took over on a temporary basis following Pardew’s departure to Palace in early January and was handed the job until the end of the season shortly thereafter. He inherited a squad with enough talented players to suggest that the club is unlikely to be dragged into a relegation battle, although their poor defensive record does provide some cause for concern.
Carver will be without the injured Cheick Tiote (knee), Paul Dummett (knee), Robert Elliot (thigh), Siem De Jong (lung) and Steven Taylor (achilles), while the participation of Rolando Aarons (hamstring) is highly doubtful.
Man City v Newcastle Betting Tips
Newcastle knocked Man City out of the Capital One Cup in October but have a very poor record against them in the league. City won 2-0 at St James’ Park earlier this season and have won each of the last 10 league fixtures between the sides, including 4-0 victories at the Etihad in each of the last two seasons. They last lost a league fixture to Newcastle back in 2005.
City have dropped points in three of their last four home matches and are likely to have one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League round-of-16, first leg tie against Barcelona. They do, though, still have players of sufficiently high quality to call upon if Pellegrini does elect to rest a couple of his regulars and should still be considered the clear favourites for victory.
Of the current top six, Newcastle have beaten Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur so far this season, although their overall record reads poorly, with six defeats from eight such fixtures. Carver’s side have some difficult matches coming up over the next couple of months and are unlikely to get that run off to a good start on Saturday.
Despite some recent problems of their own, City should be comfortable victors.
- Back Man City -1.5 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 13/15 with BetVictor.
- Bony scored in Swansea’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle in October and twice more in their 2-1 win at St James’ Park last season. Reports suggest that he will go straight into the City starting XI on Saturday, and he can be fancied to again score against the Magpies. Back Wilfried Bony to score at anytime @ 5/6 with Bet365.