- Man City sit 3rd, 9 points behind Liverpool
- Newcastle sit 14th, 5 points clear of 18th
- Last meeting: Newcastle 2-1 Man City
Manchester City will be seeking a small measure of revenge, but most of all three desperately needed points to claw back into the Premier League title race, when they visit Newcastle United on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com).
Pep Guardiola‘s side coughed up a 1-0 second-half lead last time they visited St. James’ Park in January, and it was the last time they dropped points in the PL all season. The two-time defending PL champions won 14 straight to finish the campaign and retain the PL title. Man City entered that game four points behind then-leaders Liverpool. This time around, they trailed the runaway Reds by nine points.
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It’s not just the current deficit, but also injuries to a pair of key players, which make a three-peat an increasingly difficult task. Sergio Aguero (thigh) and Aymeric Laporte (knee) will each be unavailable for the next few weeks, beginning with Saturday’s game. Gabriel Jesus will deputize at center forward, but Guardiola remains without a reliable alternative to Laporte at center back. In nine games since Laporte suffered his injury on Aug. 31, Man City have conceded 11 goals. They conceded just 23 goals in 38 games last season.
As for Newcastle, Steve Bruce‘s side will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing display in defeat to Aston Villa on the heels of a three-game unbeaten run which saw them climb to well outside of the relegation zone this month. The story of the Magpies’ season, at least thus far, has been offensive impotence. Their 11 goals scored rank second-worst in the PL (ahead of only 20th-place Watford), including all of one goal and one assist from the star trio of Joelinton, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin.
Man City: OUT – Sergio Aguero (thigh), Aymeric Laporte (knee), Leroy Sane (knee), Oleksandr Zinchenko (knee)
Newcastle: Dubravka – Yedlin, Schar, Clark, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton
What they’re saying
Steve Bruce, on facing the PL’s bigger sides: “They’re as good as you get. We’ll have to defend well and take our chances but we’ve done OK against some of the big teams this season. Let’s hope we can again.”
Pep Guardiola, on City’s title chase: “I am not thinking about how many games we have to win. I know we cannot lose games. I am not thinking about winning the Premier League now. I never thought, even in the years we won, ‘We have to do this to win the Premier League.’ First we have to get past Leicester, then Liverpool.”
City found themselves in a similar position around this time last season — trailing Liverpool by nearly double-digit points — before roaring back and retaining the title, so they’ll not fret too much, at least not yet. Newcastle’s poor defensive record (20 goals conceded), along with their inability to score on the other end, makes them the perfect place to begin another comeback in resounding fashion. Newcastle 0-3 Man City.