Manchester City welcome a rejuvenated Newcastle United to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday lunchtime, eager to gain the three points that will keep pace with leaders Arsenal.
City fell five points behind the Gunners on Wednesday as Arsenal thrashed Everton 4-0 in their game in hand, and the blues now have to once again play catch up if they are to secure a third successive league title.
They face a Newcastle side that have made huge improvements to their play under Eddie Howe and have a real chance at European qualification this term, at the very least, they look like making the Europa League. It’s a far cry from recent seasons, which have seen them fighting at the wrong end of the table.
The Toon seemed to have slipped from their form throughout the season, but they remain in the top five. However, they haven’t recorded a Premier League win since beating Fulham 1-0 at St James’s Park on 15th January. In fact, that’s their only Premier League win of 2023, having drawn four and lost one. It’s a concerning run of form for Howe’s men, who had won eight out of ten Premier League matches between October and December.
Newcastle scored just two goals last month and conceded four from three Premier League games, while in January, they scored a solitary goal from three matches. In their favour, they kept three clean sheets in the league, including a 0-0 draw at Arsenal.
Despite their recent dip in form, Newcastle still have the best defence in the league and have suffered just two defeats all season, both home and away to Liverpool.
Who to Watch
City will need to be wary of Miguel Almiron, who is Newcastle’s top scorer with ten goals so far this season, including the equaliser against City back in August. Almiron is averaging a goal every 233 minutes and last scored at Bournemouth in mid-February. He has attempted 39 shots and has a shot accuracy of 59%.
Callum Wilson has seven goals and has attempted 44 shots so far this season, the most in the Newcastle side. Averaging a goal every 219 minutes, Wilson last scored in the 3rd minute of a 1-1 home draw with West Ham at the beginning of last month.
Former City youth team star Kieran Trippier is Newcastle’s chief assister, with six from 31 matches. He has also attempted the most passes with 1,568, completing 1,174. He has created a phenomenal 89 chances for the Newcastle side, and creates 2.87 chances per match. City will need to stop their former youth star if they want to stop the Toon.
Almiron, Wilson, Bruno Guimarães, Sean Longstaffe and Allan Saint-Maximin are all in joint second place with 26 chances created and just three taken. Incredible, the number of chances created between them (98) are only nine more than Trippier on his own!
Who’s the Boss?
Eddie Howe is the man currently turning Newcastle’s fortunes around. Since being appointed as boss in November 2021, he has presided over 59 matches, winning 28 and losing just 14. Howe’s win ratio is an impressive 47%.