Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle United

Preview: Manchester City vs. Newcastle United

Seeking to quickly dust themselves down after their heartbreaking Champions League exit in midweek, Manchester City will bid to keep their Premier League title hopes alive when they welcome Newcastle United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Citizens cruised to victory in the reverse fixture against the Magpies when they won 4-0 at St James’ Park in December.

With a 5-3 aggregate lead heading into stoppage time at the Santiago Bernabeu, Manchester City were seemingly on course to reach their second successive Champions League final and set up an all-English showdown with Liverpool.

The Citizens could have put the tie to bed had Jack Grealish found the net with two glorious chances in the closing stages, but those missed opportunities – along with the plethora of squandered chances missed in the first leg – proved costly as a calamitous collapse in stoppage time saw Real Madrid level the tie courtesy of a late Rodrygo brace, before Karim Benzema netted from the penalty spot in extra time to send City crashing out in heartbreaking fashion.

City’s painful wait for Champions League glory goes on, but Pep Guardiola, his players and the fans have no other option but to rise from the canvas and turn their focus to the Premier League title race, as they bid to end the season on a high with domestic success.

At the time of writing, the Citizens are positioned at the summit, sitting one point clear of quadruple-chasing Liverpool in second, and victory in each of their final four league fixtures will see them crowned as champions for the fourth time in five years.

City will be confident of success on Sunday as they have lost only one of their last 28 league games against Newcastle, winning each of their last 12 on home soil in the process.

Guardiola’s men have had no problems finding the net in the Premier League, scoring 16 times in their last five outings. City have also scored 17 in their last five league encounters against the Magpies so they will be hoping for more joy in front of goal this weekend.

Since the turn of the year, only Liverpool (41) and Man City (33) have accumulated more Premier League points than Newcastle (32), who have been transformed under the tutelage of Eddie Howe.

Fears of relegation are long gone and a top-10 finish – which was unthinkable earlier this season – is now a distinct possibility for the Magpies, who currently sit 10th in the table and 11 points clear of the drop zone.

Victories in April against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Norwich City have seen Newcastle catapult up the table, but they were unable to claim a fifth successive victory last weekend as they were condemned to a slender 1-0 loss at home to Liverpool. That defeat at St James’ Park was in fact their first in the league on home soil since losing 4-0 to Man City back in December.

The Magpies will be keen to return to winning ways on Sunday, and while victory would do Jurgen Klopp’s side a huge favour in the title race, Howe will be mindful of the threat a fired-up Man City outfit will pose, as he has lost all 11 of his Premier League meetings against them, the worst 100% losing record a manager has against a single opponent in the competition.

Alan Shearer was the hero the last time Newcastle claimed maximum points away at City, helping his beloved Newcastle claim a narrow 1-0 win back in September 2000.

Manchester City Premier League form:
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Manchester City form (all competitions):
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Newcastle United Premier League form:
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We say: Manchester City 3-1 Newcastle United
While Man City may feel physically and mentally fatigued following their midweek efforts in Europe, Guardiola will want his players to treat each of the last four league fixtures as a final and put all their remaining energy into claiming maximum points on Sunday as they bid to finish the weekend at the summit.

Newcastle have struggled for a number of years when facing City on the road, and although their form has improved since the arrival of Howe, we cannot look past the Citizens claiming maximum points even if they decide to rotate their squad from midweek.

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