The champions start the defence of their title on Sunday as they make the trip to the North East to face Newcastle. Both sides have done some good work this summer as City have added genuine quality in Eliaquim Mangala. They will be hoping the Frenchman will form a formidable partnership with Vincent Kompany, as that has always been a problem position for City. Meanwhile their opponents Newcastle have signed the most players this summer with 9 new additions, even more shocking considering that they failed to make a permanent signing for the whole of last season. The pick of the signings is either Remy Cabella or Siem de Jong, both of whom will add creativity and goals.
Newcastle need a good start to the season more than most sides in the Premier League. The atmosphere was toxic on Tyneside towards the end of last season with Alan Pardew getting heavily booed every time he left his dugout in the final home match. Although the transfer business this summer should have calmed the mood of the fan-base, a poor start could prove fatal for Pardew as Mike Ashley will be less forgiving after he has spent upwards of £30m on the squad. They finished 10th this season and their squad is certainly getting to a place where it can challenge the second tier clubs like Everton and Tottenham, an improvement on 10th should be seen as a minimum target this season.
Meanwhile, Manchester City need a quick start for different reasons. They are now one of the best teams in the country and as such are under extreme pressure to perform. A poor start and questions about the team and Manuel Pellegrini will soon arise. Their pre season hasn’t been the best with none of the World Cup players featuring at all, their fitness levels can’t be at their best. They would have wanted an easier start to their title defence, with Newcastle offering real competition, especially at St James Park. The champions are among the favourites for the title once again, but they are expected to face a real title fight with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all improving over the summer.
It should be a good match for the neutrals as Newcastle have the players to give the best teams in the division a real test and in recent seasons, the players have upped their games against the top sides. They have a bit of a problem against Manchester City, but last season’s fixture was very close. Although Manchester City won 2-0, Newcastle played really well and they were unlucky to have a perfectly good goal from Cheick Tiote ruled out. If they perform at a similar level, they could get a positive result this weekend.
Newcastle have lost their last nine league meetings against Manchester City. They will be very keen to break that run this weekend.
Last weekend’s Community Shield match was only the second time that Manchester City have conceded three of more goals in 34 matches.
Remy Cabella will be a key figure for Newcastle this season after being signed for a fee of around £8-12m. He was signed from Montpellier, who he scored 14 goals and got five assists, showing his undoubted quality in the final third. Newcastle had problems in the final third last season, especially after Yohan Cabaye left the club, but Cabella has the potential to fill that gap and exceed it. He will be given lots of attacking freedom this season as Pardew wants his side to play attractive football and the midfielder is an excellent dribbler and very intelligent in the final third. The Frenchman is also brilliant at playing through balls to the striker, and he could breakdown the City defence this weekend. Cabella could be one of the signings of the summer and has even been compared to David Ginola by some people in France, Newcastle fans will be excited by the prospect of watching Cabella regularly.
After signing a new long term contract, David Silva will be keen to have a great season to confirm his place as one of the best players in the league. He had an underwhelming World Cup, after playing a part in the Spanish team who were blown away by both Holland and Chile, but the attacking midfielder has the ability to have an excellent season. Last season, he scored 7 goals and got 9 assists, which is a great return for Silva, but he will want to improve on that this year. He has a crucial role to play in the Manchester City side this season, as he provides the main creative spark and City will rely on him to create chances for their strikeforce. Manchester City have never retained the Premier League before and will need their Spaniard to be on top form if they are to overcome the challenges of Arsenal and Chelsea.
Siem de Jong (calf) and Cheick Tiote (hamstring) are both very unlikely to feature this weekend, but they could be back for next weekend’s match at Aston Villa. Yoan Gouffran is a doubt after picking up a knock last weekend in their final pre season match. Ryan Taylor is back in training after nearly two years out of the game, but he will not be rushed back, while Papiss Cisse and Davide Santon are also still out with injuries they contracted last season.
Manchester City only have one injury concern going into this match, which is Alvaro Negredo who will be out for more than a month with a metatarsal injury. There will be lots of changes from the team that started in the Community Shield, while new signings Mangala and Fernando are set to make their Manchester City debuts. Stevan Jovetic is expected to make more of an impact this summer and could feature at Newcastle.
This will be a very close match with both teams likely to take time to settle into the season. Newcastle will be keen to start the season quickly, especially at home, as they will want to get the home fans back on side. They could come quickly out of the blocks and City looked vulnerable last weekend defensively, although Kompany will be welcomed back into the team. Manchester City’s record against Newcastle can’t continue forever and this weekend could be the perfect chance for the home side to get at least a point as City are yet to get into their stride this season.
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