Date – Sunday 6th May 2012
Kick-off – 1.30 pm BST
Venue – St. James Park
TV – Sky
Newcastle United (Form last 7 PL – WWWWWLW)
Cheick Tiote is available despite stitches for a head injury at Stamford Bridge for what should be a fascinating midfield tussle with Yaya Toure, his international team mate for the Ivory Coast. Danny Simpson is set to absent again, which means that Newcastle should be unchanged from their mid-week win, with James Perch and Mike Williamson in defence.
Newcastle have taken at least 3 points off every Premier League team this season, apart from Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs. Unbeaten at home in 2012, and with only 2 home defeats all season, Newcastle are rightly confident of climbing to third in the Premier League.
Manchester City (Form last 7 PL – DDWWWWW)
City have no injury problems and, like their hosts, come to St James Park in great form. They may well field the same 11, but internationals James Milner and Micah Richards will be looking to be involved. And there is always Balotelli.
Captain and derby hero Vincent Kompany will surely be busy keeping Papiss Demba Cisse under wraps for their must-win encounter, leaving it to the Argentinian double act of Tevez and Aguero to break down a resolute Toon defence.
This is surely the toughest match that both teams could face at this stage of the season. Whilst fans and management alike at Toon will be reveling in a glorious season, they will want this form to continue next season.
Talk of Andy Carroll is long since gone, but the astute spending of the £35 million fee is omnipresent. But more so the football philosophy in the transfer market. Of late there has been only one United dominating the back pages, with wonder goals, team ethic, coaching and managerial excellence. Newcastle.
Sunday’s game comes as a stage for players mirroring great form in every position – Krul and Hart, Cisse and Aguero, Silva and Cabaye, Ba and Tevez, Tiote and Toure, the captains Coloccini and Kompany.
With Arsenal having paid the penalty in their 3 – 3 draw against Norwich City, Newcastle have the chance to move one point clear into third place. Level-pegging Spurs have a superior goal difference, but there may yet be twists even at this stage of the season.
As this season’s fixture list was announced, the blue half of Manchester would surely have glanced tomorrow’s match at St James Park with a glint of destiny. Manchester City last won the first division in 1968 in a 4 – 3 thriller at St James to pip their neighbours by two points.
Few though would have expected that it would be the United of Newcastle rather than Manchester that would prove to be the toughest battle to predict at the top of the table, possibly all season.
Whatever the outcome, the expectation of Toon winning not only this game but the radiance of this season as an omen for the next, Sir Bobby Robson would surely be proud as his statue is unveiled at St James’ Park. His legacy has been found again.
Match stats and facts
Newcastle will be looking to reverse a run of poor results against Manchester City, having lost 3 of their last 4 meetings at home, including a 3 – 1 defeat last season. Manager Alan Pardew will be looking for 5 straight home wins on the spin. As for Manchester City, who would be surprised if they get a draw and Swansea do them a favour at Old Trafford?
It is all to play for.
Newcastle (4-2-1-3 or 4-4-2): Krul, Perch, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Tioté, Gutiérrez, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Cissé, Ba.
Out: Shola Ameobi, Haris Vuckic (both knee), Lovenkrands (thigh), S Taylor (Achilles), Simpson (ankle).
Manchester City (Probable 4-2-3-1): Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Yaya Toure, Barry, Silva, Tévez, Nasri, Agüero.
Referee: Howard Webb (Check out man in the middle preview)
NUFCFans Prediction – Newcastle Unied 2 – Manchester City 1