The Premier League champions kick off the defence of their title against Newcastle United on Sunday, as they look to continue their impressive recent record against the Magpies.
As 11v11’s statistics reveal, City haven’t lost against Newcastle since 2005, winning their last 10 matches against them in a row.
Making that 11 will be top of Manuel Pellegrini’s mission list come Sunday at St. James’ Park, but the hosts may well have something to say about that.
Date: Sunday, August 17
Time: 4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET
TV Info: Sky Sports 1 (U.K. only)/NBC (U.S. only)
Newcastle Seeking Redemption
While Manchester City enjoyed a historic Premier League campaign last term, Newcastle were at the other end of the success spectrum.
Though safe from relegation, a 10th-place finish is hardly what Magpies fans would deem an enjoyable campaign, and manager Alan Pardew has a lot to make up for this time around.
However, they’ve shown during a busy pre-season schedule that a reverse in fortunes could be around the corner, winning five of their eight fixtures with some excellent performances to boot—per SoccerWay.
Such form has given Newcastle a bit of optimism heading into the clash with Manchester City on Sunday, and defender Steven Taylor told the club’s official website that good preparation is exactly what the Magpies need against such a formidable force:
It's been tough. We've been playing teams like Malaga, who were a very good side. We've had a lot of games, a lot of travelling, but I think we've needed the games because you cant just pace yourself getting into it—this is Manchester City, we've got to get straight into that game. It's not been a pre-season where you only have a couple of games and more training. It's good that we've had a lot of games and the lads are getting their fitness up, which is the most important thing. We just hope that at the start of the season, we make a good start and that's all we can ask for really.
Sunday’s hosts will turn to a few new boys to get the season off to the perfect start that Taylor craves, having been busy in the summer transfer window.
Though Siem de Jong won’t be in action due to injury, Pardew could hand league debuts to Jack Colback, Daryl Janmaat and Remy Cabella.
Meanwhile, Manchester City’s most expensive acquisition of the transfer window so far, Eliaquim Mangala, will be sitting out as he struggles for match fitness.
The big talking point ahead of the champions’ trip to Tyneside, though, is who will be given the responsibility in goal.
Englishman Joe Hart has forged himself into one of the world’s best stoppers since moving to the Etihad, but Willy Caballero’s transfer has thrown his selection into doubt.
The former Malaga man hasn’t made the trip to Manchester to be a glorified substitute, and it seems that Pellegrini may well be starting him at St. James’ Park—as The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor revealed:
Pellegrini didn't say a great deal - no guarantee, again, that Joe Hart starts. Mangala not match fit and won't play v Newcastle— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian) August 15, 2014
Newcastle’s recent form suggests that whoever gets the nod between the posts may be in for a busy afternoon, but City’s class will likely shine through.
Pellegrini’s men know that they have what it takes to win the title once again, but with the 2014-15 campaign looking more open than ever, a bright start is absolutely essential.
With Mangala and striker Alvaro Negredo the only confirmed absentees, City will field a strong side at St. James’ Park and should have enough to continue their excellent run against the Magpies.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester City