Date:Saturday October 2 2010
Sunday, 3rd October
Roberto Mancini's Blues are looking to get back to winning ways with a victory over an up-and-down Newcastle side. Chris Hughton's outfit won't come to Eastlands content with getting a point but this should work in our favour. Interestingly, this clash sees the return of Joey Barton to City who I'm sure will kop for a lot of stick.
"Newcastle are a good side who play good football. They have good players and I think this will be a difficult game for us, but we feel confident against any team on our own pitch. They have beaten Chelsea and Everton away from home already and though they got beat at United on the opening day, they played really well against United at Old Trafford.
"I don`t think they will come here and try and put ten men behind the ball. I think they will come to play football and that will suit us. Against Juventus it was a little frustrating because defended very deep with everyone back and were difficult to break down, but that is life in the Europa League. Carroll is a very good young player who will be a threat from set-pieces. We need to make sure we stop the supply of crosses to him or he could hurt us.
"We want to go into the international break with a victory because last time there was a break, we lost to Sunderland and it was frustrating that we had to wait so long before we played again. If we have the same focus that we had against Chelsea, I think we`ll be able to beat most teams, so that`s what I want from the players against Newcastle."
'It's a massive game - we need to sign off with another win and another three points before the international break. It can be frustrating if you don't get the result then you spend the lay-off thinking about it. Newcastle's confidence is high. They had a great season - the Championship is not an easy division to get out of but they did it convincingly, and they've started this season pretty well.
'They're a threat going forward and Chris Hughton has them organised very well, so they'll be hard to break down. Andy was coming through when I was up there. He's got a good attitude. He's a good finisher who can use both feet and he's strong, a real handful in the air who will cause problems for any defence. If he gets the supply he's dangerous, but we've been solid at the back so far so hopefully we'll deal with that.'
'All I am focusing on is Manchester City and doing well for Newcastle United. It's a big game for us and one in which we are trying to bounce back from Stoke with a good result. We have got a good group here and we will be looking for our team-work to pay off on Sunday.'
After drawing with a well-drilled Juventus side on Thursday, I expect Mancini to make a few changes. Pablo Zabaleta pulled his hamstring and was substituted at half time - meaning that Dedryck Boyata is expected to fill-in at right back once again with Boateng probably moving to left back. However, if the German is deemed not fit enough to play twice in four days then Joleon Lescott may retain his place after a brief spell out.
City lacked creativity and impetus in midweek; we had a lot of possession without creating many meaningful chances. But the arrival of David Silva immediately lifted the side as he began to make a menace of himself with some insightful movement. Despite Johnson`s promising performance capped off with a goal, I expect Silva to replace the boy-hood Geordie fan on the right flank.
Hopefully, Carlos Tevez will take play as the lone striker - where he is most potent with Milner supplying the width on the left flank. Don`t get me wrong, the midfield three has served us very well thus far but these are the type of games where we`ve got to look to being more adventurous. Dropping Barry for Johnson would be a tactic I`m sure most City fans would warm to on this particular occasion.
Firstly, here`s the team I`d like to see:
Preferred City Team:
38) Boyata - 28) K Toure - 4) Kompany - 17) Boateng
34) de Jong - 42) Y Toure
11) A. Johnson - 21) Silva - 7) Milner
32) Tevez (c)
However, I expect Mancini to stick by his midfield trio. I like this system, providing Yaya Toure busts a gut to get into the box and makes passes like he did to set up Johnson`s goal against Juve:
Probable City Team:
38) Boyata - 28) K Toure - 4) Kompany - 17) Boateng
34) de Jong - 42) Y Toure - 18) Barry
21) Silva - 32) Tevez (c) - 7) Milner
This could be the perfect platform for Silva to really announce his arrival in the Premier League. Newcastle play a fairly attacking system, with Barton and Tiote anchoring, Ben Arfa and Routledge providing the width and Nolan supporting Carroll up top. When Liverpool visited Eastlands they opted for a 4-4-2 formation which backfired on them hugely as Barry, de Jong and Yaya completely dominated everything in the middle. This could very well be the case tomorrow. This would give Silva bags of room to drift in-and-out of the defensive banks; playing almost as an attacking midfielder which is where he is best.
Newcastle are set to name the same starting eleven that was humbled by Stoke last weekend. Both Danny`s, Guthrie and Simpson completed full training this week but are likely not to be risked. Steve Harper who broke his collar bone is expected to be out of action until mid-December, meaning Tim Krul will probably continue in goal until then. Sol Campbell has recovered from a thigh injury but Williamson is expected to keep his place with the veteran taking-up a place on the bench.
Probable Newcastle Team:
14) Perch - 2) Coloccini - 6) Williamson - 3) Enrique
7) Barton - 24) Tiote
10) Routledge - 4) Nolan - 37) Ben Arfa
How Newcastle managed to secure the services of Ben Arfa is beyond me! No disrespect to the Geordies but with the likes of AC and Werder chasing the winger over the summer I really didn`t expect him to pop up on Tyneside. That said, he`s an extremely good loan signing and a player that Newcastle should enjoy watching while they have him. Ben Arfa is a quality player. He plays on the left wing and is a bag full of tricks. He possesses a thunder shot and has the ability to ghost past defenders, similarly to Adam Johnson. Ben Arfa can lose his discipline and throw a few hissy fits but whoever starts at right back tomorrow will have a tough job on their hands.
A City win would give them a 50th all-time league win against the Magpies. Newcastle have 64 wins in this fixture.
City are seven games unbeaten against Newcastle since Michael Owen bagged the only goal at St James' Park in September 2005.
City have conceded only two league goals this season, the equal best record along with Chelsea.
The Magpies have not lost in three away games since an opening day defeat across Manchester at Old Trafford.
Chris Hughton's side have failed to score more than one goal in five of their six league games to date. The exception is the 6-0 win over Aston Villa.
Newcastle will come to Eastlands with the intention to take all three points. They play an attacking system with two genuine wingers, an attacking midfielder and a lone front man in Andy Carroll. This is all well and good but against a side of City's calibre who possess such force in the middle of the park, Newcastle could come un-stuck. Therefore, I expect City to emerge victorious with David Silva at the heart of proceedings. Prediction: MCFC 4 - 1 Newcastle
Sunday, 17th October v Blackpool @ 16:00 (A)
Thursday, 21st October v Lech Poznan @ 20:05 (H)
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