Manchester City will aim to bounce back from their heartbreaking Champions League exit against Real Madrid when they face Newcastle United in the Premier League.

Manchester City had both feet in the UEFA Champions League final as stoppage time approached in their semi-final second leg at Real Madrid, only to hit the self-destruct button, allowing the 13-time European champions to score twice in the dying embers to turn the game on its head. Los Blancos struck again in extra time to knock the Cityzens out of the competition.

Their Champions League elimination at the Santiago Bernabéu means that, despite all the cash splashed, the Sky Blues have yet to win the European Cup since their takeover in 2008. Their dramatic late collapse in the Spanish capital would have been a soul-crushing experience for Pep Guardiola’s side. But they will need to get over it instantly and shift their focus to domestic affairs in the Premier League.

Having already been dumped out of both cup competitions, retaining the Premier League title represents City’s only hope of landing silverware this season. However, they face a resurgent Newcastle United side eager to leave their mark on this season’s epic battle for the Premier League title between Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and Guardiola’s City.

Newcastle fell to their first home defeat of the year against City’s title rivals Liverpool only last weekend losing 1-0, which also snapped their four-game winning run. However, that in itself goes to show the progress they have made in recent months. The Magpies were all over the shop before Eddie Howe’s mid-season managerial appointment.

Competent coaching, enthusiasm around St James’ Park following the takeover and some astute January business mean they have been in fantastic form since the start of 2022. They have gone from relegation trouble to looking to consolidate their place in the top half of the table. But with two of their final three games against Manchester City and Arsenal, it will be easier said than done for the Toon.

The hosts thumped Newcastle 4-0 in the reverse fixture at St James’ Park. With Liverpool going to the top of the table following their 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Saturday, the pressure will be on Manchester City to reclaim the top spot and expand their lead at the top to three points with a win.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has clarified in his pre-match presser that Kevin De Bruyne was taken off against Real Madrid for tactical reasons and that he is fit to play on Sunday. Elsewhere, Kyle Walker (ankle) is unlikely to feature against Newcastle, with match fitness the main concern, having been forced off injured in midweek, while John Stones (muscle) is also a doubt.

Otherwise, the Catalan head coach has a fully fit squad and a few changes are likely given the fatigue when playing games in quick succession, but City’s starting XI will still be filled with tremendous quality to take on Newcastle. Ederson Moraes should continue to operate in goal for the hosts, aiming for his third Premier League Golden Glove in a row.

Walker’s absence means Joao Cancelo will shift across to the right flank, with Oleksandr Zinchenko getting the nod to operate on the left ahead of Nathan Ake. Guardiola’s preferred centre-back duo of Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte is likely to continue at the heart of defence in spite of an uncharacteristic collapse in midweek.

Up ahead in central midfield, De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva should slot in on either side of Fernandino, who could come into the fold as a rotation option for Rodri. The former two will push the team up the field with their creativity and relentless press, all instrumental to Manchester City’s style of play.

Jack Grealish was very lively after coming off the bench against Real Madrid with his directness and dribbles and could be afforded a chance to impress down the left wing. Riyad Mahrez will aim to fashion opportunities cutting inside from the right. Gabriel Jesus might be demoted to the bench after an uninspiring display at Madrid last time out, with Raheem Sterling potentially starting in the false-nine role.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Cancelo, Dias, Laporte, Zinchenko; Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne; Mahrez, Sterling, Grealish

homecrowd-formation-zMZeee6z912VBJTb0Be5

Newcastle United

In terms of injuries and absentees for Newcastle, Fabian Schar joins Ryan Fraser (hamstring), Isaac Hayden (knee), and Jamal Lewis (groin) on the sidelines after suffering a foot injury in last week’s defeat to Liverpool. In a major boost, manager Eddie Howe could be set to welcome talismanic striker Callum Wilson and winter arrival Kieran Trippier into the squad that faces Manchester City on Sunday.

Wilson has been sidelined since late December with a calf injury, while Trippier was expected to miss the remainder of the season after fracturing his metatarsal in February. But both have a good chance to be involved at some stage of the match this weekend.

Howe will probably stick with his favoured 4-3-3 formation, but there might be a reshuffle in attack. Chris Wood, who has started the last two games on the bench, could return to the starting lineup against Manchester City to spearhead the Newcastle attack, enabling Joelinton to switch back into the left-sided central midfield role in place of Joe Willock.

Midfield maestro Bruno Guimaraes has taken the Premier League like a duck to water since arriving at St James Park and is really endearing himself to Toon fans, stepping up with three goals and an assist across six games last month. The 24-year-old Brazilian international will provide support to midfield anchor Jonjo Shelvey both in and out of possession.

Toon hero Allan Saint-Maximin has recently come under scrutiny for his controversial interview with a French outlet and will look to make amends for it with a positive display on the pitch, whereas Miguel Almiron will stretch the Man City backline with his tireless running down the right flank.

In defence, the potential absence of Schar will likely see skipper Jamaal Lascelles start alongside Dan Burn. The duo will be flanked by the full-back pairing of Emil Krafth and Matt Targett, with both tasked with staying narrow to reduce spaces and making forays forward at opportune moments.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Lascelles, Burn, Targett; Guimaraes, Shelvey, Joelinton; Almiron, Wood, Saint-Maximin

homecrowd-formation-aDJcfswFRUaYBsmN27lz

Key Stats

  • Manchester City have won 20 of their last 24 Premier League games (3D, 1L).
  • Newcastle have never tasted a league victory at the Etihad Stadium in 16 attempts (D2 L14), losing on each of their last 12 visits to the stadium.
  • Only defending champions Manchester City (33) and title challengers Liverpool (42) have collected more points since the turn of the year than Newcastle United (32).
  • However, the Magpies have suffered defeats in three of their last four away Premier League games. Their only victory in that run came against the relegated Norwich City.
  • Manchester City star Riyad Mahrez has scored in each of his last five league starts at the Etihad Stadium.

Player to Watch

Bernardo Silva

Embed from Getty Images

While City were not at their best in midweek, they were still in total control during the 89 minutes or so, thanks to the buzzing midfield presence of Bernardo Silva, who has become an instrumental piece in Guardiola’s system. The Portuguese playmaker controls the flow of the game with elegance, silky touches and nimble footwork, while he orchestrates City’s attacks by initiating passing patterns with his teammates.

His stats have also improved compared to the last couple of seasons and he is on course to record 20+ goal contributions in a campaign for the third time in his City career, demonstrating his importance and consistency for the team. He would also be the key to raising the squad morale due to his leadership qualities, which could help City grab all three points at home and reclaim their place at the top.

Prediction

Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United

Manchester City must get back into the swing of things right away, with Liverpool pulling ahead in the table, although they will be relieved that the Reds managed only a draw against Tottenham. But, even though the Cityzens remain favourites to defend their league crown, there is now a serious risk that they could go trophyless this season.

Newcastle United, meanwhile, have secured their Premier League status and have been incredibly tough to break down under Eddie Howe. But they are up against a wounded animal, who will be fired up after the midweek debacle. Should Guardiola’s troops be able to handle the pressure heading into this fixture, they have enough quality to breach Newcastle’s resistance and record a comfortable victory at the Etihad.

Leave A Comment...

*