OUR WORTHY OPPONENT: Newcastle
They had a 'clear the air meeting' in the locker room before playing some damn good football against Swansea this past Saturday (City weren't the only team enjoying a 3-0 win). They are at home, they are in a relegation fight and unlike what we saw against Chelsea, this will be an opponent that won't be raising the white flag before the final whistle.
CITY INJURIES: Samir Nasri, David Silva, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna are not making the trip to St. James Park. However, as noted in the headline, Vincent Kompany and Raheem Sterling are available.
CURRENT FORM: City playing their best
- Manchester City, over their last six matches, are playing better than anybody in the league not named Leicester City. They've won three in a row and have given up only two goals during that time. Combine that with having the two hottest players in the league (Aguero and De Bruyne) and City are the definition of a team flying high.
- Newcastle, before their great win against Swansea, were notoriously awful. Not Aston Villa awful, mind you, but close--they had lost four of five and not the kind of losses that were all that competitive. But that was before they blew out the Swans.
STARTING LINEUP: As I see it
GK: Joe Hart Barring injury, he's the guy from here on out. It's striking how many people think he's not a top ten goaltender. I think he's one of the five best in the world.
LB: Aleksander Kolarov One week after writing that City had the deepest and probably best collection of fullbacks in the league, Clichy gets hurt and Zabaleta gets roasted at Stamford Bridge (he was pretty bad). Until Clichy gets healthy, Kolarov won't come off the pitch.
CB: Nicolas Otamendi
CB: Eliaquim Mangala The only thing I know for sure is that Vincent Kompany will get some minutes (he might even start) tomorrow. What I don't know is who will start alongside Kompany this weekend at Southampton and next Tuesday against Real Madrid. My opinion is that Mangala has been slightly the better player than Otamendi and should get the starts.
RB: Pablo Zabaleta He's been great and might even be the best right back City has ever had but as of now, a healthy Sagna is the better option.
CM: Fernando I wrote yesterday that Mangala has been our most improved player but this guy is close.
CM: Fernandinho This scares me because he has played so many minutes. I'd start him but take him off at the hour mark for Fabian Delph. Yaya Toure played quite well against Chelsea but a second match in three days is not what the doctor ordered for #42. Rest him for Southampton.
LM: Kevin De Bruyne I'm sure Sterling comes on for somebody tomorrow and it's probably KDB who will come off. Some of you aren't going to want to hear this but David Silva was never the player this guy is. The closest I've seen Silva come to resembling what De Bruyne is doing right now was the 2011/2012 season. Silva started having chronic ankle issues that year and they never went away.
RM: Jesus Navas How much credit does Pellegrini get for the outstanding performances City received from the secondary players this past month? In particular, Clichy, Mangala, Fernando and Navas really stood out against PSG from the second half of of the frst game forward. Maybe it was just their time but maybe, just maybe, Pellegrini had something to do with it.
ST: Kelechi Iheanacho I think it's been pretty well established by now that the kid is the first striker off the bench and the first striker used after Aguero. He is also undoubtedly dying to get in a game. I'll be honestly surprised if he doesn't start tomorrow.
ST: Sergio Aguero He's scored 99 goals over the last five seasons and this season ain't over yet. Courtesy of Benjamin Pugsley, we learn the only players to score more goals over their first five years in the league were Alan Shearer (137), Thierry Henry (112) and Les Ferdinand (101). Aguero did this while playing 4000 fewer minutes. He has never been seriously considered for Player of the Year. He's never even been the runner up. In fact, no Manchester City player during the era of the sheikhs has ever won an individual award from the league other than Aguero getting a Golden Boot.
Prediction: City win a closely contested match 2-1.