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Manchester City v Newcastle preview

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Reports suggest Shay Given will not play in the game, likely ahead of a transfer that will be announced before the weekend, but this will be interesting to keep an eye on given this report in The Mail which suggets Mike Ashley is preparing a last ditch attempt to keep him at the club. According to the BBC, Given has been named in the Newcastle squad.

There are a couple of old boys on display this evening, with Craig Bellamy set for a debut against (one of) his former side, whilst Joey Barton will likely receive a warm reception on his return to the club.

Bellamy should be joined on debut by Nigel de Jong, whilst the wanderer has returned and should start in what looks to be a strong side also buoyed by the return of Stephen Ireland. I can't match Jack in terms of producing a hi-tech graphic, but I do agree with his speculation as to what the likely line-up will be. However, if Hughes decides on a bolder approach (which he has surprised with on occasion this season) and selects Elano, this would see Zabaleta move to right-back and threaten the position of either Nedum Onouha, or perhaps more interestingly, Micah Richards.

What is evident though, is that our line-up will have a far stronger line-up with the inclusion of our January additions and we should be too strong for a Newcastle side who have been sharing our tag as press whipping-boys of late and look to be very light on depth and quality at the moment.

It is inevitable that the off-field issues that have plagued the club translate onto the pitch, and for all the perception that JFK has steadied the ship somewhat since taking over, results have in the main not been overly impressive and Newcastle do find themselves struggling at the wrong end of the table.

We have put together a 'run' of three games unbeaten, and I don't see this ending tomorrow evening and take us to take all three points - with Robinho grabbing the headlines.

Some game notes:
  • We are hoping to record three home league wins in a row for the first time since December 2007; Newcastle are hoping to avoid three successive away league losses.
  • We have scored seven times in three meetings with Newcastle, and all seven goals have been scored by different players.
  • Newcastle have claimed just two points and scored two goals in their last five visits.