Date: Sat 19th November, 2011.
Referee: Chris Foy (Linesmen: D Bryan & D.C.Richards).
Don’t forget that as usual, we will also be doing our usual “what the managers have been saying” review in the run up to the game, and also our regular “match banter” feature where you can make comments, share good streams for the game etc while the match is in progress. This should be going up around and hour before the kick off. Also as usual, we shall also be posting our report of the game some time after.
Well, it’s all gone quite swimmingly for Newcastle United so far, even against contenders such as Arsenal and Tottenham where we departed with honourable draws. However, the next three games (Man City, Man United and Chelsea) could well be reality check time, starting with this one away against table-topping, moneybags Manchester City.
Stats, previous matches etc…
After eleven games of the Premiership season, Manchester City and Newcastle United are the only as yet unbeaten teams in the Premiership. Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City machine have won all but one of those games, the one being a 2-2 draw against Martin Jol’s Fulham. Those results include a shocking 6-1 thumping of neighbours, Manchester United, and also a 5-1 mauling of Tottenham too. Meanwhile, Newcastle United are of course in third, with a record of seven wins and four draws. Unlike Man City, we haven’t handed out any comprehensive six goal stuffings yet, with Silver Supremo, Alan Pardew, relying mostly on a tenacious and hardworking defence. To put it another way, Manchester City have scored no less than 39 goals so far, conceeding 10. This would make an “average” game for Man City a 3.9-1 victory! One thing that the Magpies can say however is that their defence have conceeded fewer goals than City, only 8, however we have scored less than half as many with 17. Both teams have kept two clean sheets so far this season.
So whilst our defensive record holds up against theirs, in attack it’s quite a different story despite the goal heroics of our runaway top scorer this season so far, Demba Ba. Perhaps the most telling statistic which speaks of their huge reserves of talent both upfront and in the middle if the park is the amount of goals scored from open play. Against a season average (so far) of 10.05 for all teams, Noewcastle have scored only eight, whereas Manchester City have scored a huge 30. Finally, whilist it’s taken us an average of 58.24 minutes to score each goal, it has taken Manchester City a mere 25.38 minutes, all of which is pretty scary to be honest.
Head to head, our two meetings last season both resulted in defeat, 1-3 at our place and a ridiculous travesty in the last game at their place, a two one defeat. Hatem Ben Arfa was deliberately taken out the game after only three minutes with a typically vicious scissor tackle from their notorious midfield hatchet man, Nigel de Jong. Martin Atkinson’s refereeing was a complete disgrace. As well as turning a blind eye to De Jong’s assault, even ordering Ben Arfa to get up when he had a double break in his leg, the incompetent Atkinson then graciously awarded moneybags City a penalty after Mike Williamson cleanly won the ball outside the area. Just to add insult to injury, he later turned down a much better penalty shout from us when Joleon Lescott felled the mighty Fenham Eusebio himself when he actually WAS in the box. It was a complete travesty from the dodgy whistleblower.
Right, I’ve calmed down now, a bit. To complete this section, our overall Premiership record against Manchester City at Maine Road / City of Manchester Stadium doesn’t make very comfortable reading either, even if we go back to the time when we were a free spending Champion’s League club and they didn’t have obscenely rich middle eastern backers. It goes something like this:
Played 13, Won 1, Lost 7, Drawn 5.
Ooh Er! And that solitary win was in the 2000/2001 season, a slim 0-1 victory with Derek Llambias’ favourite football manager, Alan Shearer, banging in the winner.
To finish on a more optimistic note, newly promoted Queen’s Park Rangers, who certainly gave us a game in our 0-0 draw earlier in the season, certainly gave them a bit of a game too, the plucky underdogs eventually going down to a tight 2-3 defeat. Without their usual captain, the suspended Vincent “lightbulb head” Kpmpany, perhaps the most underrated player in their star studded line-up, they certainly didn’t didn’t seem to like it up ’em at the back. Sad news is though that he’ll almost certainly be back for this game.
Team news, squads, probable formations etc
Various other writers have come up with three different predictions regarding what kind of formation Manchester City will play, 4-5-1, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3. The thing is, the have such flexibilty and depth of talent nowadays that they could play all three during the course of the game. We could very well see key men David Silva and Sergio Agüero on the flanks with 6’4″ hitman, Edin Džeko spearheading things. More an attacking midfielder and a forward than old fashioned wide men, Silva and Agüero would almost certainly be cutting in to wreak havoc in our box. On the other hand, Agüero could just as easily spearhead the attack as Džeko, with Silva just as comfortably slipping into Aguero’s hole in a more central position with Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson, or even ex Toon wideman, James Milner, slipping in nicely on the flanks. It permutations just go on…
Meanwhile in the more defensive midfield positions, cautious Italian, Roberto Mancini is very tight on his defence and will be having two, or even three more defensively minded mids in the centre. Expect to see Yaya Touré, Gareth Barry and the above mentioned Nigel De Jong battling it out for a starting place there.
As mentioned above, Captain and central defender, Vincent Kompany will be returning from his supension against Queen’s Park Rangers and should be a definite choice, with Joleon Lescott being the most likely candidate to join him in the heart of defence. On the flanks, Gaël Clichy (left back) and Micah Richards (right back) will also be the most likely starters. Finally, England No 1, Joe Hart will be a practical certainty in goal for the Blues.
To round off the Man City side of things with their injuries, doubtfuls and suspensions, though I mentioned him quite a bit above, Sergio Agüero may be a slight doubt with a groin strain. Samir Nasri will definitely be out with a knacked knee and also the perenially knacked Owen Hargreaves due to a lack of match fitness. Meanwhile, very naughty boy, Carlos Tevez, will continue his Mancini imposed spell in the wilderness after throwing all of his toys out of the pram in city’s Champion’s League fixture against Bayern Munich some time ago. He’s currently in Argentina.
Alan Pardew’s Magpies will probably be far more predictable with his “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy which has seemed to owrk for him so far. While it may be advisable for stick an extra body in the middle of the park, it would be totally unsurprising if he plumped for yet another 4-4-2 arrangement as he has in all Premiership games so far. On the other hand, Leon Best will be doubtful with his “Gilmore’s groin”. If he sticks with the old formula, a now recovered Shola Ameobi, as well as Peter Lovenkrands will be there to deputise. However a braver Pardew may even opt to give the remarkably talented Ben Arfa a starting place at last, possibly playing in a somewhat more recessed number 10 / three quarter style role betwixt the midfield and the almost certain to be selected Demba Ba upfront.
In the midfield, our key defensive midfielder, Cheik Tioté will continue to be out with his knacked knee. If the last three games are anything to go by, most naotably our previous two Premiership ones against Stoke and Everton, trusty box to box type, Danny Guthrie, will probably step in once more, with the more specialised defensive “talents” of Alan Smith almost certainly being avoided like the plague once more too. On the right wing meanwhile it’s double trouble. Pardew’s usual choice, Gabriel Obertan will still be out with his infected. Also, in a very worrying development, his usual stand in, Sylvain Marveaux, requires yet more groin surgery and will be out for some time. Thankfully though, Yohan Cabaye should be back after his own groin trouble. Ever reliable Jonas Gutierrez is ok to assume his usual position on the left wing. Going back to the right side, we may even see a starting appearence by wing back style fancy Italian, Davide Santon.
At least the back four seems to be pretty straightforwrd, with usual starters, Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor occupying the centre of defence, with Ryan Taylor on the left side and Danny Simpson on the right. As with Man City and Joe Hart, Tim Krul will almost certainly by occupying the goal once again during this game with Rob Elliot standing by just in case.
Newcastle United (from): Tim Krul (G), Rob Elliot (G), Danny Simpson (D), Ryan Taylor D/M), Steven Taylor (D), Davide Santon (D/M), Shane Ferguson (D/M), Fabricio Coloccini (C, D), James Perch (D), Yohan Cabaye (M), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Dan Gosling (M), Danny Guthrie (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M/F), Mehdi Abeid (M), Haris Vučkić (M), Alan Smith (M), Demba Ba (F), Leon Best (F), Shola Ameobi (F), Peter Lovenkrands (F/M), Sammy Ameobi (F).
Doubtful: Best (Gilmore’s groin)
Injured: Obertan (infected toe), Tioté (knacked knee), Williamson (ankle / foot), Marveaux (groin)
Manchester City (from): Joe Hart (G), Costel Pantilimon (G), Stuart Taylor (G), Vincent Kompany (D), Joleon Lescott (D), Micah Richards (D), Gael Clichy (D), Kolo Touré (D), Stefan Savic (D), Pablo Zabaleta (D), Alexander Kolarov (D), Nedun Onuoha (D), Karim Rekik (D), Frédéric Veseli (D), David Silva (M), Yaya Touré (M), Gareth Barry (M), Nigel De Jong (M), James Milner (M), Adam Johnson (M), Mario Balotelli (F) Edin Dzeko (F), Sergio Agüero (F).
Doubtful: Agüero (groin)
Injured: Hargreaves (match fitness), Nasri (knacked knee)