Premier League leaders Man City host third placed Newcastle on Saturday, and with both sides unbeaten something has to give at the Etihad. Well, unless it’s a draw.
It’s not been a quiet international break for either of the teams. Man City have faced further turmoil with renegade Argentinean Carlos Tevez, while Newcastle owner Mike Ashley saw fit to go against over a century of history to rename St James’ Park. Suffice to say, fans were not amused.
But back to matters on the pitch and both sides have proved mighty impressive so far this season. For Roberto Mancini’s side, that is no massive surprise given the players in the squad. Alan Pardew’s Newcastle, however, have confounded critics by maintaining their unbeaten stretch long beyond even their most loyal fans’ wildest dreams.
Newcastle’s mix of industry and inventiveness has propelled them to their current Champions League spot, but we predict this will be where reality bites. City are simply too strong, too fast and too skilful for the visitors to handle. The bookies agree, offering best odds on a home win of 4/11 (Boylesports – £40 free bets).
For those who have developed faith that Pardew’s boys will march on towards Premier League glory, you can back them to get the three points at a best price of 10/1 (Stan James – £150 free betting), but we can’t see it. At best they might sneak a draw (9/2 with Ladbrokes) but Villa, Aguero, Dzeko and co are, in combination, better than anything the Newcastle defence have faced all season.
To pick the first goalscorer you might as well pick any of the above out of a hat, but we fancy Sergio Aguero is due one. He can be backed at a very reasonable 7/2 (Paddy Power) to open the scoring, while both teams to score looks like a decent bet at 19/20 (William Hill), especially so because the home side haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league since 1st October and Newcastle haven’t failed to score in a match since September.