Preview: Newcastle United v Manchester City
Following the disappointment of defeat to Everton, the need to start the Christmas period with a win at Newcastle is all the more pressing. It’s unlikely to be easy with Alan Pardew having had a winning start by beating Liverpool last weekend.
The St James’ Park crowd will no doubt add to the pressure on City with a hostile reception for Nigel de Jong following the media fuelled frenzy after his leg-break tackle on Hatem Ben Arfa.
Roberto Mancini is unlikely to rest the Dutch enforcer and will probably send out his strongest available side despite having to play again on Tuesday.
With Kolo Toure suspended, either Lescott or Boyata are likely to be drafted in. The England international has been in decent form when called upon and is better suited to the physical threat of Carroll than either Kolo or Dedryck. It’s to be hoped the transfer speculation around Joleon doesn’t affect his game, or prevent Mancini from selecting him.
Mancini is a fan of Zabaleta and the Argentine is favourite to start at right-back unless he’s still recovering from the Everton game. Boateng and Richards will be itching to start in his place, and right-back is one position that is likely to see rotation over the festive period with Mancini having three capable candidates.
It’s to be hoped the defence is more switched on for this game as Carroll, Barton and Nolan will be quick to take advantage of any complacency. Their physical game should at least stir City into action.
Milner is the clear candidate to make way for de Jong in central midfield, and the big question is whether Balotelli will retain his starting place. Mancini may look to someone more reliable for this away game, and save the Italian for other fixtures over the festive period.
Milner may get to start on the flanks, but the more direct attacking of Adam Johnson may offer a greater threat to the sometimes fragile Newcastle backline.
Whoever plays, it’s to be hoped that Tevez and co offer greater composure in front of goal than they did against Everton. Newcastle are unlikely to pack their defence as tightly, so it ought to be easier for Silva to create chances.
Mancini was right to point out the need to attack as a team, not as individuals, following the Everton game. It’s to be hoped Tevez and Johnson in particular heed his words.
“It will be a difficult game, but we have to win because we lost points against Everton. That’s our target but we will have to play well to do that.”
City’s over-realiance on Tevez is less of an issue away from home, and results have bore this out. Thus far we have two more points and seven more goals on our Premier League travels than we do at Eastlands.
After our previous troubles on our travels, it’s therefore no surprise to hear Mancini’s name regularly chanted by our away following. Marshalled by Vincent Kompany, we should once again look to maintain our discipline at the back, retain possession across midfield and attack clinically when the opportunity beckons.
If we can do that, then another victory could be ours. Subduing the crowd by retaining possession and preventing the home side building up momentum will be particularly crucial in this Boxing Day fixture.
Blue Days line-up (4-2-3-1):
Boateng – Kompany – Lescott – Kolarov
de Jong – Barry
A Johnson – Y Toure – Silva
Prediction: 2-0 to City.