Manchester City recommence their Premier League title defence with a difficult trip to St. James’ Park as they face Newcastle United in a mouth-watering tie this weekend.
In the middle of January and in the freezing cold, the sky blues have drawn the short straw, as they have the fixture nobody wants as they travel to Newcastle for an inevitably difficult away trip on Saturday evening.
Manchester City’s last outing was a straightforward 5-0 victory over Huddersfield Town in the third round of the FA Cup, with goals from Julian Alvarez, Jeremy Doku and two for Phil Foden ensuring victory last weekend.
Saturday’s clash with the Magpies will certainly pose more problems, despite the injury trouble Newcastle face at the minute, with Joelinton’s confirmed absence an addition to a long list of unavailable players for Newcastle.
Whilst Manchester City are not quite as unfortunate injury wise, the Blues will still be without talisman Erling Haaland for this one, with Pep Guardiola confirming in his pre-match press conference that he and John Stones are ruled out, as well as Manuel Akanji.
Saturday’s clash in the North East will be their last before a mini break, with the squad set to travel to Abu Dhabi for a training camp during their winter break, before facing Tottenham just under two weeks later.
Manchester City must retain their focus on this weekend’s fixture before a break, and with that being said, here is the side we think will start the game against Newcastle on Saturday evening!
Ederson will return in goal after Stefan Ortega Moreno assumed cup competition goalkeeping duties as per standard procedure, with his Brazilian colleague resuming responsibilities in the Premier League this weekend.
After recently being confirmed as the club’s main captain following the departure of Ilkay Gundogan last summer, we think Kyle Walker will start despite ongoing newspaper reports surrounding problems in his private life.
Ruben Dias will start at the back for Pep Guardiola’s side, and we expect the Portugal international to partner Nathan Ake against Newcastle, especially given the ongoing absence of John Stones.
Josko Gvardiol is expected to return to left-back this weekend, completing the Manchester City defence and hoping to retain their clean sheet form of recent weeks.
Rodri was granted a rest last weekend, and opportunity to refresh following saddening events in his private life, but there are little doubts about his place in the Manchester City squad for this one given the magnitude of the contest.
Pep Guardiola confirmed that Kevin De Bruyne “could start” after he returned against Huddersfield last time out, and we expect that to be the case, partnering the immovable Phil Foden in attacking midfield.
Bernardo Silva is likely to start given his importance in these fixtures, and we think it will be on the right of a front three for the Blues, to allow for the aforementioned Foden to excel once again in a central role.
Pep Guardiola confirmed on Friday afternoon that Erling Haaland will be unavailable for this one, and potentially until at least the end of Januayr. As such, we expect Julian Alvarez to lead the line on Saturday evening.
Jeremy Doku returned to the side with a goal against Huddersfield after emerging from the substitutes bench in the second-half. We think Doku will replace Jack Grealish for this one, completing the starting XI against Newcastle.
Predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Ake, Gvardiol; Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden; Bernardo, Alvarez, Doku.
Substitutes: Ortega Moreno, Lewis, Gomez, Phillips, Kovacic, Nunes, Hamilton, Bobb, Grealish.
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