Toon Army Face Mighty Battle At St James’ ParkStats
Newcastle v Man City
Premier League champions Manchester City begin the defence of their title on Tyneside against a Newcastle United side looking to improve on a disappointing season for the Geordie faithful.
Newcastle have tasted defeat only once in their pre-season fixtures, most recently earning a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad last weekend thanks to Moussa Sissoko’s late goal. The Magpies also earned wins over Schalke and Sheffield Wednesday, lost to Malaga and drew with Huddersfield Town, after returning from a brief tour of New Zealand, where they earned victories over Wellington Phoenix and Sydney.
A trio of new signings have all scored at least twice since joining the club with Siem de Jong, Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere all wasting little time in getting off the mark.
A 3-0 loss in the Community Shield to Arsenal last weekend is no disaster for City although it was far from the ideal start to the campaign for the league title holders either. First half goals from Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey were added to in the second in spectacular fashion by Olivier Giroud for the Gunners at Wembley as the Citizens struggled to find their rhythm.
It was a third defeat in a row over the pre-season although the previous pair of losses came in penalty shootouts after successive 2-2 draws against Liverpool and Olympiakos as part of the International Champions Cup in the United States, a tournament which Manuel Pellegrini’s men began with a 5-1 hammering of AC Milan. City also earned wins over Sporting Kansas City and Hearts after beginning their summer outings with a loss to Dundee.
Stevan Jovetic has given his chances of an extended run in the first team a huge boost in pre-season with five goals in the last four games, and also came closest to getting on the scoresheet against Arsenal last weekend when his header struck the upright.
Alan Pardew is definitely without long term injury victims Ryan Taylor and Papiss Cisse for the foreseeable future while Welsh full back Paul Dummett suspended after he was sent off in their defeat to Liverpool in the final game of last season. Pardew is also sweating on the fitness of De Jong, Yoann Gouffran and Cheick Tiote.
Alvaro Negredo is City’s only definite absentee after the Spanish striker suffered a broken foot over the summer and is out for another six weeks at least. Many of Manuel Pellegrini’s charges are badly lacking in match practice though with the Argentina World Cup contingent of Sergio Aguero, Martin Demichelis and Pablo Zabaleta all without any pre-season action under their belts, as was Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho.
New signing Willy Cabellero will battle it out with Joe Hart as first choice keeper for the season too, while defender Eliaquim Mangala is expected to miss out.
Manchester City have beaten Newcastle in each of the last ten games between the teams, including on the opening weekend of last season at the Etihad Stadium, and the Toon Army haven’t even scored in the last four.
The champions won 2-0 on both of their visits to St James’s Park last season too, with Negredo and Edin Dzeko the goalscorers on both occasions.
Newcastle have made rich pickings for City in recent years – so the 4/6 on another away win shouldn’t put anyone off. The champions are likely to be without many of their first-choice back four though so both sides scoring at 8/11 looks worth a punt and the same price on more than 2.5 goals is well worth some action.