Saturday’s early kick-off sees the reigning champions make the journey north to St. James’ Park. The Sky Blues will be still be hurting after last week’s loss which saw Manchester United put an end to City’s impressive unbeaten home record stretching back to over two years. Roberto Mancini will be looking for a response and with a six point gap at the top, City can ill afford to slip up. The Magpies have not quite managed to reach the dizzy heights of last year and currently lie in 14th place. Alan Pardew will have reason for concern as his team have only picked up one win in five games and lost the other four and failed to pick up more than a single point in November.
The Geordies have suffered from conceding goals late on this season. They have conceded 14 out of the 23 goals in the second half and that replicates in the fact that they have lost by a single goal difference in four of their league matches this season.
Manchester City themselves haven’t been as free spirited as last season and have found it tough this season. But Mancini will be confident his charges will pick up three points from Tyne-side.
Newcastle United are likely to be without Hatem Ben Arfa again after the Frenchman aggravated his hamstring again which had kept him out of the previous four games before returning against Fulham.
His compatriot Yohan Cabaye continues to watch the action from the sidelines as his groin injury is yet to make any significant process. Newcastle’s squad is very bare and doesn’t leave Alan Pardew with many options. Ba and Cisse will continue to lead the line but will soon depart for the African Cup of Nations.
Manchester City will also be missing their skipper Vincent Kompany who had to go off injured in the Manchester derby. Kolo Toure is likely to keep his place unless Mancini chooses to recall Lescott. His brother Yaya is likely to be partnered by Javi Garcia in midfield following Gareth Barry suspension for abusive language toward the referee. Carlos Tevez may also be recalled to the starting XI after Mancini’s gamble over Balotelli failed to pay off.
Fabricio Coloccini has endured a stop start season owing to suspensions and injuries but now he will be hoping for an extended run in the side. The Argentine will be up against his fellow countrymen in Aguero and Tevez and his leadership skills and organization of the backline will be tested to the core.
Yaya Toure hasn’t quite been himself this season and his performances have sometimes been lackluster to say the least. But the Ivorian has said this week that he wants to finish his footballing career at City in a show of loyalty. His job will be made difficult by fellow Ivorian Tiote whose hard tackling style might just be what Newcastle require to keep Yaya at bay.
Prediction: If Newcastle lose on Saturday they are in real danger of being dragged into a relegation scrap. The Toon army will be wary of this and will be in full voice. City though will be licking their wounds from last week and will come out all guns firing. It will be a tough ask for Alan Pardew’s men to keep the champions at bay and if Man City open the scoring early on, you could see a few goals hitting the back of Tim Krul’s net.
Prediction: Newcastle 1-3 Man City