Manchester City are looking to get back to winning ways in Saturday’s late kick off after drawing 1-1 with newly-promoted Wolves last week.
The champions only lost twice in the league in the whole of 2017/18 and Aymeric Laporte came to the rescue with a bullet header in the second half to spare City’s blushes and prevent a first defeat of the season after Willy Boly’s controversial opener.
After failing to keep a clean sheet and lacking a cutting edge, Pep Guardiola may well make a change at the back, meaning England’s Kyle Walker would be in danger of losing his place, in order to revert to the dynamic success of the demolition of Huddersfield. City weren’t their usual clinical selves against last season’s Championship winners, so I expect the same attack that started against Huddersfield, meaning Gabriel Jesus would be reinstated alongside Sergio Agüero.
And with Benjamin Mendy playing virtually on the wing against packed defences, there will be no place for Leroy Sané, meaning that he will have started on the bench for four consecutive games for the first time in his Manchester City career.
As for Newcastle, they fell to a 2-1 defeat at home to Chelsea last Sunday and, although they did cause the London club problems, had under 20% possession and were below par for much of the game. After a poor summer transfer window, Rafa Benitez doesn’t have much strength in depth, if any, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Spaniard fielded an unchanged side. However, Joselu may have earned a place in the starting line up after netting against Chelsea.
The big news surrounding the team from the North East, however, is the midweek training ground bust-up involving club captain Jamaal Lascelles and winger Matt Ritchie, which was allegedly due to a disagreement over tactics. As a result, neither man is expected to feature on Saturday.
KEY BATTLE – SERGIO AGÜERO vs CIARAN CLARK
As City’s all-time top scorer, Agüero is the target of focus for any opposing defences and it will be no different for the visit of Newcastle.
In City’s last match at The Etihad, Agüero walked away with the match ball after bagging his 13th hattrick in sky blue colours and it will be up to Ciaran Clark to marshal his troops to prevent the Argentine from bagging hattrick number fourteen.
The Republic of Ireland international was in the side that lost 6-1 in this fixture three years ago and who scored five goals that day? You guessed it, that man, Kun. If Newcastle are going to get anything from the match to take back to St. James’ Park, Clark will have to be in top form. Unfortunately for the Magpies, I don’t see their often lackadaisical defence coping with the vision, dynamism and execution of Manchester City.
PREDICTED LINE UPS
Manchester City (4-3-3): Ederson; Stones, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy; David Silva, Fernandinho, Gündogan; Bernardo Silva, Jesus, Agüero
Substitutes: Muric, Walker, Delph, Otamendi, Sané, Mahrez, Sterling.
Newcastle United (5-4-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Schär, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett; Ritchie, Diamé, Ki Sung-yueng, Murphy; Rondón.
Substitutes: Darlow, Longstaff, Atsu, Pérez, Joselu, Sterry, Muto.
PREDICTED SCORE: 4-0