Newcastle United-Manchester City Preview
Manchester City return to Premier League action with a home match against lowly Newcastle United on Saturday, boosted by a welcome, if somewhat fortunate, midweek win in Europe.
City (5-0-2) hit the ground running at the start of the season with the maximum 15 points through their first five matches but have since suffered back-to-back league defeats against West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.
Fierce local rivals Manchester United are now atop the Premier League on 16 points, one more than second-place City.
The Citizens rallied from a goal down to win 2-1 at Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday in a Champions League Group D match.
The German side were dominant in the first half and City were indebted to man-of-the-match goalkeeper Joe Hart, who saved a penalty from Raffael on 19 minutes and pulled off several other excellent stops.
Lars Stindl finally put the German side ahead with a 53rd-minute strike, and for a while, the City defence was in disarray and in real danger of conceding more goals.
However, City managed to keep 'Gladbach out and then fight back as defender Nicolas Otamendi equalised on 65 minutes before striker Sergio Aguero's last-minute penalty secured all three group points for Manuel Pellegrini's side.
City boss Pellegrini praised his side's response to going a goal down.
"They played better than us, especially defensively because we didn't defend well but after that, we had a strong reaction for the last 30 minutes and finally we won the game," Pellegrini told his club's official website. "I must say Borussia played very, very well.
"Joe Hart made brilliant saves but we also had chances that we didn't score. Maybe after 65 minutes, Borussia could have been winning 3-2, or it could have been 3-3 or 4-4. There were so many chances. We had a bit of luck to win the game."
The Magpies (0-3-4) are still with out a win in the Premier League and second from bottom with only three points.
Newcastle ended a three-match losing run with a 2-2 draw against Chelsea at St James' Park last weekend, but arguably deserved more from an improved performance against the English champions.
Ayoze Perez and Georginio Wijnaldum gave the Magpies a two-goal lead before substitutes Ramirez and Willian both scored in the final 11 minutes to give the Blues a share of the points.
Goal-scorer Wijnaldum was pleased with his tally but unhappy the Magpies couldn't hold out to claim a famous victory.
"It's a really good result but I can't be too happy about it because I think it's two points dropped," Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum told his club's official website. "I'm really sad about the result because if we had just played like the first half, I think we would have won. I was happy because it was the second goal for the team, but I just wish we could have stayed strong for the win."
City will be without the injured Gael Clichy, Fabian Delph, Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala, while Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure are doubtful to start.
The Magpies have also been hit by injuries and will be missing Papiss Demba Cisse, Steven Taylor, Emmanuel Riviere, Curtis Good and Cheick Tiote.
Manchester City did the double over Newcastle last season, including a 5-0 home win in February. David Silva scored twice while Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri also netted. The Citizens won 2-0 at St. James' Park with Silva and Aguero getting the goals.
The Magpies did bounce City out of the League Cup last October, winning 2-0 at the Etihad. Rolando Aarons and Moussa Sissoko found the net for Tynesiders.
Man City have won 12 of the last 13 meetings with Newcastle over all competitions dating back to October 2008, with last season's League Cup defeat the lone exception.
Newcastle failed to score in their last five top-flight matches against City, being outscored 17-0. Their last goal was a Demba Ba strike in a 3-1 home loss in December 2012. The Magpies have gone 489 minutes of Premier League football without a goal against City.
City hold the Premier League head-to-head advantage over Newcastle winning 19 times to the Magpies' seven. The sides have drawn the remaining six, and the Citizens have outscored the Magpies 56-29.