How Newcastle United Will Line Up Against Manchester City
Manuel Pellegrini’s men have won eight of their last nine games in the Premier League and haven’t lost on the road since their 1-0 defeat at Sunderland at the beginning of November.
The Magpies haven’t beaten City since September 2005—a run of 15 matches—but will be out to avenge an opening-day drubbing at the Etihad Stadium that ended 4-0 to the Sky Blues.
With Toon boss Alan Pardew without captain Fabricio Coloccini for the St. James' Park clash and doubts surrounding the fitness of Yohan Cabaye, here's how the Geordies could line up this weekend.
Goalkeeper: Tim Krul
After missing out in the FA Cup third round against Cardiff City, Tim Krul is expected to regain his place between the posts for the visit of Manchester City on Sunday.
The Dutchman was sidelined due to a problem with his shoulder, which he picked up after an accidental collision with Cheick Tiote.
But the 25-year-old should be fine to play this weekend and will need to be at his very best to halt Manuel Pellegrini’s side, which have won their last nine fixtures against the Magpies.
Full-Backs: Davide Santon and Massadio Haidara
With Mathieu Debuchy still suspended following his needless sending off at West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day, Alan Pardew will need to shuffle his full-backs this weekend.
With Davide Santon comfortable on either flank, the Toon manager could be tempted to switch the Italian across to the right, meaning a first Premier League start of the season for Massadio Haidara.
The young Frenchman has been out of the picture so far this term but is slowly working his way back into contention, having started last Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Cardiff City.
Centre-Backs: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Mike Williamson
Having rested Mike Williamson for the visit of Cardiff City in the FA Cup, Alan Pardew is expected to reinstate the 30-year-old on Sunday to tackle Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko and Co.
The former Wycombe and Watford man has been one of the Toon's most important players this term, and his no-nonsense approach will be welcomed at the heart of the Magpies' back four.
Alongside him, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is likely to fill in for the injured Fabricio Coloccini as he did last weekend.
The Frenchman has dropped down the pecking order of late, but his captain’s knee problem has opened the door to a sustained run in the first team for both himself and Steven Taylor.
Central Midfielders: Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote
In the centre of midfield, the tough-tackling approach of Cheick Tiote and the technical know-how of Vurnon Anita will be vital against Manuel Pellegrini’s title-chasers.
In fixtures against the Premier League’s finest in the past, Alan Pardew has used both to great effect, and he will look to the pair to break up City’s invention in the middle of the park.
The threat of Yaya Toure will not be lost on Tiote, who has played alongside his fellow Ivorian on a number of occasions at the international level and knows all about his box-to-box ability.
Attacking Midfielder: Moussa Sissoko
Should Yohan Cabaye fail to recover from the Achilles injury that kept him out of the Cardiff City cup clash, Magpies boss Alan Pardew could ask Moussa Sissoko to lead by example and support his centre-forward.
Alongside Cabaye so far this season, the French international has often been deployed on the right-hand side of midfield, but he is just as useful in the central position that he adopts for his country.
If Cabaye is fit, Sissoko will feature elsewhere, but if not, the 24-year-old could be asked to forge a vital link between midfield and attack.
Wide Forwards: Hatem Ben Arfa and Yoan Gouffran
Again, much depends on the fitness of Yohan Cabaye, and if the former Lille man is deemed OK to face Manchester City, that will have a huge bearing on the two wide positions.
But if Moussa Sissoko's duties lay through the middle, Hatem Ben Arfa could be the main beneficiary with a starting place at St. James' Park this weekend.
The erratic winger has fallen out of favour over the past couple of months, but his undoubted talents could be utilised to good effect against such technical opponents.
On the left, Yoan Gouffran will continue after giving a good account of himself this term, and his eye for goal could help take the weight of expectation away from United’s central striker.
Centre-Forward: Loic Remy
With their other strikers Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi registering just one league strike between them, the on-loan forward has carried the burden for the Toon all season.