Wednesday evening sees a repeat of the League Cup round of 16 fixture from just under a year ago in which the eventual champions overcame a resilient Newcastle side in injury time, after the profligate hosts failed to take any of their many chances before being undone late on. This time the defending champions play host and will look to make it seven straight defeats for Newcastle at The Etihad, a venue we’ve yet to taste victory at; our last away win over Man City came in our second last game at Maine Road (30 Sep 2000), and eight years without Newcastle making it to the quarter finals.
Earlier in the season if I had said that going into this game one team would be undefeated in October, while the other comes in on the back of a loss and a draw, you’d probably expect Newcastle to be the latter. However since the return of Cissé against Hull, Newcastle have had an upturn in results, including seven points out of nine in the league this month.
This fixture comes in the middle of a congested run for Man City; the fourth of seven matches in 22 days, thanks to Premier League matches being interspersed with Champions League and League Cup involvement. Despite this the champions of both the Premier League and League Cup will enjoy an extra day’s buffer either side of this match. As with Newcastle, their last victory came against Tottenham, although they have since drawn with CSKA Moscow mid-week, and lost to West Ham on Saturday.
Each team will likely have one eye on the weekend as both sides are currently behind where they’d like to be in the league; City are six points adrift of leaders Chelsea, Newcastle sit four places below their minimum goal of tenth. The hosts have a derby on the horizon against one of the other “Uniteds”, while Newcastle welcome Liverpool.
Five of the players that represented Newcastle in this match last season are no longer at the club (Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Debuchy, Shola, Yanga-Mbiwa). Papiss Cissé and Cheick Tioté, who both also played last time and earned mug and man of the match respectively, are unlikely to be involved.
Emmanuel Rivière has, or had, a knock with no known return date, so he may or may not be available, while Rolando Aarons looks to have just missed out on his return from a hamstring injury. Davide Santon, Jonás Gutiérrez, and Siem de Jong remain long-term absentees. Ryan Taylor, who was on the bench against Spurs, may make his competitive return after 26 months out.
Despite their hectic schedule, Man City only have one injury of note; Frank Lampard with a thigh strain. Samir Nasri was a doubt due to a groin injury, but he trained on Tuesday and has been cleared for the match.
Perhaps I’ve been a little optimistic with the strength of the side, considering that the club is very clear that the cup is an inconvenience at best. If Ryan Taylor is up to speed (if he isn’t why is he being allowed on the bench?) then I’d give him a start so that Janmaat can finally have a rest in a game that isn’t going to cost us points. Taylor and Colo in the middle since we don’t really have options there and City will probably destroy Willo. Haïdara in for Dummett to rotate (and I much prefer him).
In midfield I expect Sissoko to be involved in a deep role, especially as Tioté is apparently out, so we need someone with his tireless running and physical presence to protect our back four. Abeid played well against Palace and deserves another game, he has more about him defensively than Anita or Colback, while still being able to take the ball forward and attack, both important against a side of Man City’s reserves’ calibre.
Ameobi, Cabella, and Obertan as the three picks itself based on recent form, for me any way. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pardew decides to throw in Gouffran instead so that he can track back and be anonymous for 90 minutes.
Pérez, Liga Adelante’s best attacking midfielder and revelatory player of 13/14, up top as he did well there once supported against Spurs, which hopefully that pacey, skilful, and creative three would do, and in a happy coincidence all of our other options are seemingly out of contention. That is unless Rivière’s mystery knock has healed, or Ferreyra is allowed to play football.
It’d be easy to say “I predict that we’ll get demolished”, and probably sensible given the calibre of the sides involved and our propensity for cup departures. Man City’s stuttering in the past week combined with their fixture load and a big derby at the weekend do give me some hope though, and Pardew apparently is capable of extracting at least 45 minutes of decent football now…
I’m going to go with a 2-2 after 90 minutes as we put in another resilient performance, then some idiocy in extra time will cost us a game we’ll feel that we could have won, with a fourth goal following up to seal it for City. 4-2 to them.
Where to Watch/Listen
The match should be live on Sky Sports 1 with coverage starting at 19:30, despite some listings showing this slot as another match. Local commentary, as always is on BBC Newcastle, with BBC Radio 5 Live Sports covering the UK.
Overseas TV (via nufc.com):
beIN Sports (France)
Setanta Sports Australia
Sport TV1 (Portugal)
SuperSport 3 Africa
How do you think we’ll get on in this game? Have your say in our discussion thread.
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