Manchester City travel up north to take on a struggling Newcastle United side desperate to get positive results on the board.

Newcastle United are in the toughest period of their season so far, with back-to-back games against the Manchester Clubs, starting with Pep Guardiola’s men on Sunday. Eddie Howe is desperate for positive results as his team is yet to show any improvements in their bid to avoid relegation.

With fixtures coming thick and fast before the January window opens, Newcastle need to bring in points on board to stand any chance of survival. Fortunately for them, their fellow relegation-strugglers are not performing well. Leeds United could soon enter the danger zone with their injury crisis, while the likes of Watford, Burnley and Norwich City are yet to collect any wins in their last four league encounters.

Newcastle’s situation cannot improve without victories or positive results against bigger sides. A superior goal difference to Norwich might keep them in the 19th spot, for now, but a string of defeats could soon pin them back to the very bottom.

Newcastle’s visitors, Manchester City, come into this clash in contrasting form, beating Leeds United 7-0 at the Etihad. Guardiola’s men looked in their peak form against the Whites. They will certainly hope to keep momentum against the Magpies, as they eye an eighth consecutive win in the league.

More importantly, Manchester City have to keep their noses ahead of fellow title-chasers, Liverpool and Chelsea. The Blues faltered during midweek, managing just a draw against Everton, but the resurgent Liverpool have maintained their supreme run going.

On current form, Manchester City are favourites to overcome the Magpies at St. James Park, although they will be wary of a surprise from their hosts. With most games already called off this weekend, this fixture remains one of the few to go ahead as scheduled, with everyone expecting Guardiola’s side to be at their relentless best.

Team News & Tactics

Newcastle United

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Eddie Howe has to get his team selection and tactics spot on if Newcastle are to harbour any hope of getting a positive result against Manchester City. Paul Dummett and Federico Fernandez are already ruled out while Jamal Lewis tweaked his hamstring in midweek to join the absentees’ list.

Newcastle are also sweating on Allan Saint-Maximin’s fitness, who suffered a knock against Liverpool, although he will be assessed before the game. The chances for the Frenchman’s involvement are a bit slim, considering the Magpies will not want to take a risk on his long-term availability.

Howe could shake up his formation to mirror Manchester City’s lineup with a 4-3-3 of his own. Miguel Almiron could replace Saint-maximin in the team, as the Paraguayan could play on the left side of the attack.

Callum Wilson and Joe Willock, who began on the bench against Liverpool, could be drafted back into the starting team, with the former expected to lead the line. Joelinton could be placed from the right side of the attack to complete the front three.

Meanwhile, Willock could play with Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden completing the central midfield trio. In defence, Matt Ritchie could come in for the injured Lewis at left-back, while Jamal Lascelles and Fabian Schar should continue their central defensive partnership with Javier Manquillo playing right-back.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Ritchie; Willock; Shelvey, Hayden; Joelinton, Wilson, Almiron

Manchester City

In terms of injuries and absentees for Manchester City, Bernardo Siva is a doubt, after coming off against Leeds United with what seemed like a muscle problem. It could have been only a precaution, but the Portuguese is unlikely to be risked against Newcastle United.

Kyle Walker could also be a doubt with match fitness the main concern, having not featured for the side since their Champions League loss to RB Leipzig. However, Manchester City will have Joao Cancelo back from suspension with the Portugal international set to start at right-back.

It’s difficult for any manager to make drastic changes to the lineup after an emphatic victory against Leeds in midweek. However, the ideal choice would be to rotate with the festive fixtures coming thick and fast. Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, who were unused substitutes against Leeds, are likely to start.

Kevin De Bruyne and Ilkay Gundogan should slot in on either side of Rodri in central midfield. Meanwhile, Man City should revert to their regular defensive partnership of Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte, with Oleksandr Zinchenko lining up at left-back.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3):  Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Gundogan, Rodri, De Bruyne; Sterling, Jesus, Grealish

Key Stats

  • Newcastle have failed to win 16 of their 17 matches in the Premier League this season.
  • Newcastle have the worst defensive record of all teams in the Premier League, conceding 37 goals.
  • Manchester City have scored at least two goals in their last five away games in the Premier League.
  • Manchester City have won 19 of their last 24 matches against Newcastle United in all competitions.
  • Manchester City have scored at least two goals in their last five matches against Newcastle United in all competitions.

Player to Watch

Jack Grealish

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The attacking midfielder has had some regular game time in recent weeks, and it looks like Guardiola will retain him in the side for the forthcoming game against Newcastle. While Grealish may have found his scoring touch against Leeds United, he needs to keep doing it consistently and build his confidence.

There’s no better game than their clash with Newcastle, as Grealish seeks to become a regular starter in Guardiola’s plans. It remains to be seen if the England international begins to justify the price tag that may start to weigh heavy on him with a string of bad performances.

Prediction

Newcastle United 0-3 Manchester City

Newcastle United have the worst defensive record of all Premier League sides this term. Their character will be put to the test against a relentless Manchester City side, who will seek to exert their dominance once more against a struggling team. Newcastle’s bid to fight relegation will face another setback as it will take a monumental effort to beat the Premier League champions. Expect Guardiola’s side to sweep their hosts aside with ease.

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