Newcastle vs. Manchester City: Where the Tactical Battle Will Be Won
This fixture was pivotal last season, as City sent Yaya Toure roaming in the final 20 minutes to devastating effect—securing crucial goals that would play a part in City securing the title.
With the Magpies' form dipping, Alan Pardew will be desperate for an upset, while Mancini will want absolute professionalism from his players in an attempt to get over their 3-2 loss to Manchester United last weekend.
Possible formations, starting XIs
City should set out a standard 4-2-3-1, while Newcastle often favour the 4-4-2.
Pardew has tried to change things upon Hatem Ben Arfa's return to the side, opting for a 4-3-3 against Fulham at Craven Cottage, but it did nothing to arrest the slump.
In truth, the mercurial Frenchman was hardly match fit and still got on the score sheet, so Newcastle fans will be quietly confident they've got their star man back.
With that said, it's imperative Pardew switches to a more compact formation to stop his side bleeding points.
His reluctance to do this is down to his once-potent Senegalese striking partnership, and when I asked B/R's Newcastle Featured Columnist Aidan Reynolds about the situation, this is what he had to say:
@stighefootball Seems like he wants Cisse to regain form, but scared to move Ba wide in a 4-3-3 to get it. Ba compained about it last year.— Aidan Reynolds (@aidanreynolds) December 13, 2012
@stighefootball He has to see Ba & Cisse are too similar, but can't drop Cisse (confidence) & can't anger Ba (threat of leaving). Catch22...
— Aidan Reynolds (@aidanreynolds) December 13, 2012
If there was ever a time to change the system, this is it.
Newcastle have been struggling against possession-based formations, suffering defeats to Southampton and Swansea, so it should be a concern that City are averaging the joint-highest possession in the EPL with 59 percent.
If City welcome back their defensive stalwarts as expected, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba can be taken care of. Mancini will be confident his side can control the game and dictate proceedings by outnumbering Newcastle in midfield, while Toure can target Vurnon Anita and win an important individual battle in midfield.
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