After easing past Arsenal in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup Quarter-Final, Pep Guardiola’s side host Newcastle United hoping to record a much-needed third successive victory.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle side also competed on Tuesday evening; however, the Magpies were unable to defeat Brentford and were duly eliminated from the competition.
On-paper, Newcastle should not present City with much of a challenge, their recent form has been somewhat poor and they are missing several key players. However, the Blues have recently displayed a tendency to drop stupid points and having failed to beat West Brom earlier this month, nothing can be taken for granted.
With City set to face an in-form and dangerous Everton side just two days after Boxing Day, Pep may be tempted to rest key players for the Newcastle clash under the assumption that Steve Bruce’s side will present less of a challenge than Ancelotti’s Toffees. Whilst I do not expect Pep to afford the likes of Tommy Doyle and Cole Palmer a run-out, I would not be surprised to see Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres handed starts and for Joao Cancelo and Riyad Mahrez to be benched in preparation for the trip to Goodison Park.
City will be going into the Boxing Day feature with a mostly fit squad as only Eric Garcia and Nathan Aké look to set to miss out. But on a positive note, key players Kevin De Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Raheem Sterling were afforded a rest in midweek whilst the in-form John Stones was also given the night off - we expect all four to start on Boxing Day. Christmas Day also brought about the unwelcome news of Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker both testing positive for Covid-19.
Newcastle meanwhile are without Martin Dubravka, Fabian Schar, Javier Manquillo, Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles.
Head To Head:
This Boxing Day shall see Manchester City and Newcastle United meet for the 183rd time in all competitions. City have emerged victorious in 70 of those encounters, while Newcastle have prospered in 72 meetings and the two sides have drawn on 40 occasions.
In recent seasons, City have won three of their previous five meetings with Newcastle United, with the Blues’ most recent loss being the 2-1 defeat to Rafael Benitez’s side in January 2019, when a late Matt Ritchie penalty sealed an unlikely win for the Magpies.
Heading into the Boxing Day fixture, Pep’s side are undefeated in their last nine games, however three of those matches have been draws. In recent weeks, Pep’s side has also uncharacteristically struggled in front of goal, with the Blues having scored just twice in their previous three Premier League matches.
However, on the defensive aspects of the game, City have been particularly impressive as Dias and Co. have recorded seven clean sheets from the previous nine fixtures and have conceded just twice in that time.
Meanwhile, our Boxing Day opponent’s form as of late has been somewhat poor with The Magpies managing just two wins from their previous seven fixtures, however, Steve Bruce’s side remains very capable of taking points from City and have defeated Everton and earned a draw against Spurs this season.
City are of course the bookies’ favourite heading into the fixture and anything less than a win will be deemed a disappointing result.
Andre Marriner will officiate the clash at the Etihad Marriner last took charge of a City fixture when the Blues bested Wolves 3-1 at The Molineux in September. Marriner will be joined by Richard West and Scott Ledger as linesmen, whilst Stuart Attwell will serve as the fourth official. As per usual, VAR will be in operation and VAR will be overseen by Paul Tierney and Constantine Hatzidakis.
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