Premier League front-runners, Manchester City, face Newcastle United in the evening kick-off at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday. The Blues will be looking for another 3-points in front of their home crowd to maintain their comfortable lead at the top of the table.
Visiting Newcastle need the points for very different reasons, as they sit fifteenth in the league, just three-points above the relegation zone.
Manchester City come into this fixture in the unfamiliar position of having lost their last game. They were beaten 4-3 by Liverpool at Anfield last weekend, in a thrilling encounter that certainly delivered what most football tipsters promised, an end-to-end game of attacking play, flair, pace and goals.
That was City’s first defeat in the Premier League this season, having won 20 and drawn twice, to open-up a 12-point lead going into the weekend’s fixtures. They almost lost their unbeaten league record at Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve, but for a last-minute penalty save by Ederson, which secured them a 0-0 draw.
Prior to that defeat at Liverpool, City had enjoyed a successful December, winning 2-1 at fierce title rivals Manchester United earlier in the month, and brushed aside the challenge of Tottenham with a 4-1 win at the Etihad. They also put four-goals without reply past Swansea and Bournemouth, and won 1-0 at this weekend’s visitors, Newcastle, thanks to a Raheem Sterling strike on the half-hour mark.
Now in 2018, City have beaten Watford 3-1 in the Premier League, progressed to the fourth-round of the FA Cup with a 4-1 defeat of Burnley, and will take a 2-1 lead in to the second-leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final with Championship side Bristol City. The Blues had gone behind in both games against Burnley and Bristol City, before grinding out the win, so they are a good team to keep an eye on for inplay betting opportunities.
In contrast, Newcastle arrive in Manchester struggling for consistency and goals. The Magpies were held to a 1-1 draw last weekend by bottom of the table Swansea City, when having to come from behind to secure a point.
In December, they lost four straight games against Chelsea, Leicester, Everton and Arsenal, before securing a crucial 3-2 win at West Ham. However, that was quickly followed by a 1-0 defeat at home against this weekend’s hosts, City, before being held to a 0-0 draw by newly promoted Brighton in front of the St James’ Park faithful.
The New Year started with an important 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Stoke City and they progressed to the fourth-round of the FA Cup by defeating League Two leaders, Luton Town, 3-1. They would have hoped to carry on that good form when hosting Swansea last week, so will have been bitterly disappointed at being held to a 1-1 draw, knowing they had the daunting task of a visit to the Etihad coming up.
Man City are likely to name a similar side to the one that lost at Liverpool last weekend, with the notable exception of Fabian Delph, who is out with a knee injury.
The hosts will also be without forward, Gabriel Jesus, midfielder and rising England starlet, Phil Foden, and French defender, Benjamin Mendy. Captain, Vincent Kompany, also remains a doubt as he struggles to return from a calf-injury.
Newcastle will be without long-term injury Jesus Gamez, and French defender Florian Lejeune, who is ruled out with an ankle problem.
Defender, Chancel Mbemba, is a doubt with a knee injury, whilst forwards Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic, are also struggling to be fit in time to face City.
The majority of football betting tips will have Man City down as a home-banker, and it is hard to see past anything other than a comfortable home win.
Everyone knows how City will play – they’ll keep the ball for long periods, control the play, attack at pace and press the opposition when they don’t have it.
The margin of victory could be determined by how ambitious Newcastle are at trying to win the game. Don’t forget, Rafa Benitez set Newcastle up to play for a point when City visited them a few weeks ago, so it would be hard to see him planning his team to go out and try to win on the road.
We predict a comfortable home win and a long afternoon for the Toon Army.
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