Newcastle vs. Manchester City: Players Who Need to Shine in Capital One Cup
Both Newcastle and Manchester City will be looking to put the last few days behind them when they clash at St. James’ Park in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night.
An 84th-minute goal from Fabio Borini consigned the Magpies to a 2-1 defeat in the Wear-Tyne derby on Sunday, while City were pipped at the post at Stamford Bridge, when Fernando Torres slotted home a Chelsea winner in the 90th minute.
For some the League Cup offers an opportunity to impress in a first-team game, while for others it will be a chance to put things right after Sunday’s late defeats.
Here’s a look at those players that must shine come kick-off time.
Costel Pantilimon started in City’s 5-0 win against Wigan Athletic in Round 3, and if the Romanian goalkeeper can impress against Newcastle, he could be given the nod for his side’s Premier League clash with Norwich City this weekend.
According to Dominic Fifield of the Guardian, City boss Manuel Pellegrini failed to back Joe Hart after another blunder from the England No. 1 cost his side a valuable point against Chelsea.
Joe Hart has made 7 errors leading directly to a goal since the start of last season. No EPL goalkeeper has made more during that period.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 28, 2013
Hart’s mistake could potentially pave the way for Pantilimon to cement his place in the starting XI beyond Wednesday's game if he performs well in the Cup.
The 26-year-old has yet to make an appearance for the Sky Blues in the Premier League—per ESPN—and he will be eager to prove against Newcastle that he is more than capable when called upon.
If ever proof was needed for how confidence affects a player’s output, look no further than the Senegalese striker.
Cisse was a revelation when he first arrived in England in January 2012. He scored 13 goals in 13 league appearances—per ESPN— for Alan Pardew’s side, including this screamer against Chelsea:
But since then his form has slumped.
Eight league goals were all he could muster from the 2012/13 Premier League season, and he has scored his lone goal this campaign in the Capital One Cup.
Cisse has started the last two games for Newcastle on the bench, and if he wants to regain his spot in the starting XI, he will need to start rattling the net soon. Starting with the game against City.
After being praised for his performances in City’s opening two games of the season against Newcastle and Cardiff City, Dzeko’s form has since slumped.
The Bosnian, who led his country to a debut place at next summer’s World Cup, has played just 83 minutes of football in City’s last six league games. He hasn’t appeared in the league since his side’s 3-2 loss to Villa.
Dzeko has scored 44 goals—per ESPN—since arriving at City midway through the 2010/11 season, but he has struggled to hold down a spot in the starting XI.
At the moment he finds himself behind Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo in the pecking order. And with Stevan Jovetic returning to full fitness, he could move even further down the list.
The 27-year-old will be eager to work his way back onto Pellegrini’s team sheet, especially in the lead-up to the 2014 World Cup.
Dzeko needs to seize every chance he gets, and he will have to shine against Newcastle to have any hope of regular football in the coming weeks.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Ben Arfa is arguably the most talented footballer who Alan Pardew has at his disposal.
His mazy runs and ability to pull the trigger from distance pose a threat to most opponents, but all has not been well between the boss and his star player in recent weeks.
After Man-of-the-Match performances against Fulham and Aston Villa, Ben Arfa was yanked off at halftime as the Magpies trailed Everton 3-0. He then failed to make the starting lineup for the visit to Cardiff, and although he has worked his way back into the fold, he will be hoping for a big game ahead of the visit of Chelsea at the weekend.
Ben Arfa possesses talent in abundance going forward and has the ability to win games with a moment of brilliance. But his abilities behind the ball and his consistency are often found wanting, which are frailties that run throughout the Newcastle squad.
The Frenchman is a fan-favourite in the North East and will be hoping to prove a point to his manager with a big performance.
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