A bit like the unwanted present still left under the Christmas tree, Newcastle United have Manchester City to face in their game after Santa’s visit.

A packed St James Park, a game moved to under the lights of Wednesday night, broadcast live to a worldwide TV audience, no expectations/pressure on Newcastle getting a result, an opposition who will come and play a very open game with all out attack, some of the best players in the Premier League on show…

So why is Newcastle v Manchester City a nightmare fixture?

Well, let me explain.

Personally, I would rather we mail the three points to Manchester City and just forget this game.

The three points at West Ham was a massive boost, without them I dread to think how the rest of the festive period, and indeed, the rest of the season, might have turned out without the win.

I was actually pretty confident despite going into Saturday’s match on such a shocking run of results.

West Ham are one of the worst teams in the Premier League and now with impeccably bad timing, Rafa’s team have to play the very best.

This Manchester City game is the very worst fixture Newcastle could have picked, at the very worst time.

A full week to prepare for Brighton would have been ideal, plus the chance for players to rest and throw off any knocks.

The United boss would have hoped to use the momentum of Newcastle’s first win in nine weeks but it is all but certain (odds of 14/1 on Newcastle to win at home says it all) that no matter what Rafa Benitez and his players do, they will lose on Wednesday.

That is not defeatist, just reality.

Man City have played every other Premier League club and beaten them all, apart from Everton. The scousers got a fortunate draw in Man City’s opening home match, despite Guardiola’s team playing for over the half the match with 10 me after Kyle Walker was sent off on his home debut, Everton only managed one corner and two shots on target despite the man advantage. Obviously they scored with one of those two attempts on target and held on for a draw as Manchester City still had 65% of possession despite having one less player.

Having won their last 17 matches, Manchester City could play badly, Newcastle could play really well and have all the luck, yet still lose by a few goals.

At any other time I’d be all up for having a real go at them but the timing is really desperate.

What a dilemma for Rafa Benitez. He already has one less day then Brighton have to prepare for Saturday’s match and he knows his team will be looking to get any more than a quarter of the possession against Manchester City, the Newcastle players will run themselves into the ground as they try to counter Man City’s attacking quality and all for nothing.

So Benitez will have a knackered side, plus also with the increased potential of tired players picking up injuries, only to then face two of the most important and winnable matches of the season within 48 hours of each other. Stoke away following two days after Brighton at home.

There must surely be a massive temptation for Rafa to put out a second team against Manchester City and just write the game off totally, as the Brighton and Stoke games are far far more important.

Of course the United boss won’t do that, no matter how tempting, but on the other hand I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go halfway towards that. Under the argument of rotating the squad in this busy period, I think we may well see a very different NUFC line-up on Wednesday than if we were say playing one of the other relegation battlers.

The likes of Diame and/or Saivet could see themselves staying in the team, as Rafa resists rushing Merino and/or Hayden back after they missed the West Ham game after picking up knocks.

Watch out as well for key attacking players such as Gayle being looked after, plus maybe Saturday’s man of the match Christian Atsu as well. Even maybe Jamaal Lascelles could get a surprise rest, to ensure Newcastle have these available for Brighton and Stoke. DeAndre Yedlin could be another to be given a shift off.

Maybe fringe players such as Murphy, Mbemba, Aarons, Perez etc given a start against Manchester City, as well as Dummett brought in and Manquillo switched to right-back.

I will be supportive of whatever Rafa decides is for the best but I just hope that whatever happens on Wednesday night, the United boss is happy with the state of his team/squad going into the Brighton game on Saturday.

Maybe if Mitrovic wasn’t (allegedly) injured ahead of the January transfer window, we may even have had a very surprising first PL start of the season against Manchester City, after all, the last time he started against Man City he put Newcastle in front…only for them to reply with six goals in 20 minutes.

With a squad short on quality and numbers, these three games separated by only five days, are arguably Rafa Benitez’ biggest challenge yet when managing Newcastle United.

I still say let’s stick the three points in the post to the Etihad and tell Manchester City they can have the night off…

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  • GeordieZebra

    I understand the logic but it’s nights like this we got promoted for and create memories. Let’s hope we don’t get battered but it starts 0-0. HWTL.

  • Gallowgate Dave

    Man City, like any other top class team, will still drop points at some stage. Thank God the author of this article isn’t in charge or in the squad, in fact I’d rather they weren’t in the stadium! Most likely we’ll get beat but let’s give it a gan man eh? It’s 11 men vs 11 men.

    • Mark Potter

      He’s not saying don’t even try. Saivet did well on Saturday (after the initial mistake, and BTW Arnautovic still had ALOT to do). I’d rather he stayed in the team, instead of Merino or Hayden, if they are still not completely fit. He certainly deserves a place over Shelvey, who won’t get enough of the ball to deliver many great passes, and his slowness round the pitch will guarantee that time and again City will get in between the back line and midfield. Honestly, I’d rather Diame than Shelvey.

      Then other than Atsu, the rest are much of a muchness. Except Yedlin, great going forward if we have plenty of the ball, complete liability if we are defending nearly all of the time. I would leave out both to start, bring on Atsu if we are still in touch with them after 60 minutes.

      No problem with Lejeune starting over Clarke (never made a tackle for first goal, gave away foul for the pen [probably out of box, but he still shouldn’t be diving in there]). And no problem with Dummett if fit coming in, and/or Mbemba. But nothing stupid, like trying to play Ritchie as a left fullback. Four (Or five) proper defenders, and five (Or four) midfield that can retain their discipline and make it tough for City. One attacker to nibble on scraps for 60-70 minutes at least. Defend, defend, defend.

  • Lord

    All winning runs have to come to an end sometime ….not expecting anything but never, ever write off a home match.

  • Big Al 1967

    Do not get me wrong I think Citeh will give us a good spanking……But…… in all my years of following us I have learnt one thing;when we are cast iron favourites we always always manage to screw it up (remember the first Keegan promotion in 1984 when we played Cambridge United who had not won in 29 games only for them to turn us over!) and likewise when we have been written off totally especially in front of the cameras we seem to find an extra gear. Fingers crossed

  • TheNutJob

    Best team in Europe, if not the world at the minute, if you think we`ll get anything out of this game you`ll also believe Fatty will spend £40m next month

    • Peaky Magpie

      I’ve come back earlier than I intended Nutty,how’s Moose & did you both have a good Christmas ? You’re right about tomorrow, our main aim must be to keep GD within reason as I think it’ll have a big say by May,my very best wishes to you both.

      • TheNutJob

        he`s ok, thanks

        • Peaky Magpie


    • StevieB

      Football is football, seasons are littered with shocks like this . It’s made for it

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    west ham gave man city a run for their money and deserved a point as did a couple of other teams. with supporters like you and the usual suspects on here
    just as well you did not fight in the war cowards the lot of you. two nil to newcastle.

    • Soldier


    • Damon Horner

      First half complacency and not taking chances yet they still had 77% and 24 shots and won the game. It was close in scoreline only.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        So do you agree with sending three points in the post cowards the lot of you a disgrace.

        • Damon Horner

          Na, you should fight for every point but they are formidable, there is a high chance of a defeat so I wouldn’t leave us vulnerable to injuries. Anybody with a knock or general fatigue will be rested for me.

    • anyobrien

      Fought a war….?… What a tit

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        So send the three points in the post and not play cowards the lot of you been to Man City every game the last thirty seasons the team who has an alliance with Sunderland and came to fight the Geordies on the Fish Quay the site is a disgrace no bottle no fight no hope for the lot of you even under new ownership.

    • Albert Stubbins

      Like you did you mean? It’s a game of football man not a war FFS. Stupid comparison.

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        To write such an article shows that this site is full of cowards followed this team for nearly fifty years fought a lot of battles but never conceded defeat before we start shame on the Mag.

        • Albert Stubbins

          Yes I agree but millions died in the war, needlessly in most cases. Leave the fight in the trenches metaphors to the managers as when you really give it some thought, the comparisons are stupid.

  • Jack Millington

    I hope your takeover goes through smoothly and that you can then go on to build a team to challenge the smug, entitled clique teams – Rags, Arsenil and liverpool. Naturally I want a City win on Wednesday but after that good luck for the rest of the season.

    • anyobrien

      Cheers all the best.

  • anyobrien

    Looking forward to this one… Free e shot on goal imo

  • GToon

    We can beat them. We just need a bit of the luck they constantly have when they play us.
    When my team walk onto the pitch at SJP they try to win. The fans want to win and the players want to win. Anything else is unimaginable. Sending the points to that lot is equally unimaginable. HWTL

    • Leazes Ender

      I had you marked as an intelligent person…… HTL

  • hetonmag

    Dean it is what it is much rather play them now and 24 days time get them out of the way then we can concentrate on the rest of the season, you never know they just might have had too much xmas pud.

  • StevieB

    Load of rubbish, Benitez will quietly sense he can do these, he may not say it but I bet he’s thinking it

    • Leazes Ender

      United are essentially a Championship side…. Manchester City are the equivalent of a good International side…. they would beat most teams in the final stages of the World Cup….. anything can happen in football….. but unlikely, its the equivalent of Hereford United beating us.

  • HarryHype59

    The only difference between City and NUFC is the ambition of the owners!