Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
If they are to retain their Premier League title and complete the club’s first-ever “three-peat”, Manchester City can scarcely avoid any more slip-ups in a season that has seen them lose three times in their first thirteen games. At this stage of last season, they were unbeaten and had dropped a total of four points – and rivals Liverpool looked a much less imposing machine.
On the face of it, a visit to St James’ Park should represent a comfortable weekend’s work for City. Steve Bruce’s men looked off the pace on Monday night as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Aston Villa, and it did little to inspire confidence that they can hold off the reigning champions. That said, home advantage could be the leveller here, with the Magpies unbeaten in five here since an opening-day loss to Arsenal.
Newcastle United vs Manchester City Prediction: Newcastle United 1-3 Manchester City
Newcastle United are not doing as badly, nor Manchester City as well, as anyone would have predicted at the start of the season. However, both sides are just a few standard deviations off what you’d have predicted, and more than capable of going on the kind of run that would leave City within a couple of points of the leaders, or the Magpies in their usual, relegation-curious, state. While there is every chance that the visitors will have a few sticky moments here, the truth is that it’s hard to see any result other than a comfortable away win.
Our recommended tip: Man City & BTTS
With Aymeric Laporte a long-term absentee, Nicolas Otamendi’s fitness in question, and John Stones not very good, City’s defence has been leaky in recent weeks. They haven’t kept a clean sheet in six matches across all competitions, which means there’s always hope – even for a side as blunt-edged as Newcastle – of nicking a goal against them. On the other hand, there’s Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and, in the absence through injury of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus. Betway are offering 7/4 on an away win with both sides scoring, and it’s certainly worth a look.
The recent past does offer some hope for Newcastle coming into this game – when City rocked up to this same venue in January, they were massively favoured to win easily and went into an early lead when Sergio Aguero scored after 24 seconds. Somehow, the champions never kicked on from there, and Rafa Benitez’s men got back on terms in the 66th minute through an opportunistic Rondon finish. It got better for them ten minutes from the end when Fernandinho dwelled on the ball at the back, was robbed of the ball and then fouled Sean Longstaff in the box. A penalty, dispatched by Matt Ritchie, secured a 2-1 win for the Magpies.
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Players to watch: Allan Saint-Maximin & Raheem Sterling
With zero goals and zero assists from his berth on the left wing, Saint-Maximin may seem a weird choice for a player to watch, but it’s his novelty value that makes him a joy. Always keen to dribble and try a trick or two, the former Nice man fits into this staid Newcastle side like a tiara on a warthog. Given City’s “thrilling attack at all costs” philosophy, the exciting Saint-Maximin may find the space here to deliver the end-product that has been missing from his time on the Tyne so far.
Sterling, for his part, is what you get if you take a Saint-Maximin and blend his skills with hard work and science. Often criticised earlier in his career for weaving pretty patterns without delivering a finish, the forward – still just 24 – has developed into one of the best wingers in any league, and one of the Premier League’s most reliable attacking players. A more-than-capable finisher and frequent creator, Sterling has achieved the unlikely in making his £49.5million price tag look like peanuts.