Michael Owen has looked ahead to Saturday at the Etihad.
He makes the point that Newcastle United are better on their travels than at St James Park.
He’s almost right, Rafa’s team are actually the same home and away in terms of results, picking up 12 points from 12 games at home, as well as 11 from 11 on their travels.
I think we would all take that being 12 from 12 both home and away by Saturday night.
Newcastle actually have had better results than Manchester City since the teams met at St James Park on 27 December.
Newcastle have picked up five points and Man City only four, a win over Stoke and draws against Swansea and Brighton for NUFC, whilst Guardiola’s team have beaten Watford, lost to Liverpool and drawn with Palace.
After 19 wins and a draw from their first 20 matches, no doubt this loss of form is only temporary for Saturday’s home side.
As for Newcastle, we all hope that eight points from the last 12 (if ignoring Man City) is the onset of some stability and safe passage to avoiding relegation.
Amazingly, as Michael Owen points out, it is 17 years since Newcastle last won three PL away games in a row. December 2001 saw Sir Bobby Robson’s team beat Ipswich, Arsenal and Leeds away from home, the last of those games ensuring Newcastle would be top of the Premier League on Christmas Day.
To make it three PL away wins in a row this time looks a little…difficult, the bookies’ odds of 22/1 for it to happen sum up the scale of the challenge.
Saturday was also the very final deadline when in December Rafa Benitez was asked when he wanted all of his January signings completed by, we of course stand here 18 days into the window with Mike Ashley yet to back him with a single one.
As we suspected, it looks as though Rafa Benitez will have to rely on his current players to lead the club to safety and nobody is more crucial to that than Jamaal Lascelles.
Michael Owen predicts Newcastle will lose by at least three goals but if Jamaal Lascelles is on the pitch we can have every confidence that won’t be the case.
The stats are amazing.
In 17 PL games when he started, Newcastle have conceded 14 goals, in the six matches Lascelles didn’t start NUFC conceded 17 goals.
Newcastle have picked up 22 of their 23 points in games Lascelles started.
Only twice in his 17 starts have Newcastle conceded more than one goal and in those two they won one (West Ham away) and drew one (Southampton away).
Whilst in the 17 starts, Newcastle have never lost by more than a one goal margin.
Newcastle might not be able to go to the Etihad confident of winning but the fans can go confident that they shouldn’t see the team fall apart with Rafa coordinating from the sidelines and Lascelles leading on the pitch.
Michael Owen talking to BetVictor:
“City are unbeaten in their last 20 PL games against Newcastle and I expect Pep Guardiola’s side to bounce back after their Anfield defeat.
“City remain unbeaten in their last 23 home league games but, one could argue that the Magpies are a better side on the road this season than at St James’s Park.
“Rafa Benitez’s side are looking for a third successive away PL win for the first time since 2001 when they were managed by the late great (Sir) Bobby Robson.
“Prediction/Tip is Manchester City -2 on the handicap at 37/40 (Man City need to win by three or more goals).”
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