This one should be fun.
Manchester City come into this game with the Premier League's best attack (57 goals), but have been disappointing on the road (14 of a possible 30 points). Newcastle are one of the league's most unpredictable bunches, having beaten Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United and drawn against Liverpool, while losing to Sunderland and Fulham and drawing against West Ham.
When last they met to open the Premier League season, City absolutely smoked the Magpies, winning 4-0. Will things be different this time around in Newcastle?
When: Sunday, January 12 at 9:05 a.m. ET/2:05 p.m. GMT
Where: St James' Park, Newcastle, England
Odds: Manchester City (51.8 percent), Newcastle (25.3 percent) and draw (23 percent) according to Bloomberg Sports
Newcastle supporters can perhaps breathe a little bit easier about the future prospects of one key player, as midfielder Yohan Cabaye has reaffirmed his commitment to the club in the January transfer period.
His comments, via ESPN:
For me to go to Paris or another club, there is nothing. I just want to be focussed on the next game, Man City. Nothing is happening for me. When you know what you want, it is easier.
I think it's hard for every player. It depends what the player wants—if he wants to leave or if he wants to stay. There is every time speculation about the transfer, even in January, so it's hard for the player, the club and the fans, for everybody.
It is not a good period for everybody. We just have to stay away from that speculation and stay focused on our job, and my job especially.
Only defender Mathieu Debuchy (7.47) has a higher average match rating at WhoScored.com than Cabaye's 7.36, an indication of just how valuable he has been for the Magpies this season. The Magpies will certainly need all hands on deck in this one, having lost three straight matches in all competitions.
Meanwhile, Manchester City come into this match on absolutely scalding form, having not lost since November 10 against Sunderland, of all teams. That streak of success includes wins over Tottenham, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Liverpool.
In other words, the Citizens aren't a team anyone is looking forward to playing at the moment.
While Sergio Aguero will miss this game (he's expected to return sometime in the next week, however), both Jesus Navas and Yaya Toure are good to go for the Citizens, according to Richard Jolly of ESPN.
And manager Manuel Pellegrini would love to see Toure hit the 20-goal mark this season and keep up his fine attacking form. The player is already on 13 goals in all competitions, and Pellegrini wants to see him keep up that pace, noting (via Jolly), "It will be very good if he can. I don't see why he cannot continue scoring. He has a lot of goals because he is playing free, he's arriving in the other box and he's playing very well."
As if City didn't have enough talented attackers, Toure is also in the midst of his most potent goal-scoring campaigns. How do you slow down this team?
It's a question that Newcastle will be tasked with answering.
Which team wins?
Man City may be on blistering form, but their away form and Newcastle's habit of playing up (or down) to the level of their competition suggests that this could end up being a very competitive, very open game.
City rightly should be considered the favorites, but the Magpies aren't going to make anything easy. In perhaps a surprising twist, look for Newcastle to salvage a point at home, drawing with City, 2-2.