Paul Merson has identified three targets for Newcastle at the Etihad.
The Sky Sports pundit says that it will be ‘downbeat’ for Newcastle fans and Rafa Benitez at the minute, with only a draw against rock bottom Swansea and the takeover of the club seemingly going nowhere.
This is of course conveniently ignoring the fact that the last month has seen Newcastle win a rare FA Cup match, as well as win two games and draw two against the other four relegation candidates that they played.
You could even, up to a point, call the 1-0 home defeat to Man City a positive of sorts, in terms of goal difference.
Hopefully it won’t come to relying on that in the survival stakes but it can’t be ignored that Newcastle have the best goal difference in the bottom half of the table. NUFC having only -10, compared to the likes of Stoke with -27, Swansea -21 and Huddersfield -20.
Paul Merson sees Newcastle having three objectives on Saturday: simply getting the game out of the way, not damaging the goal difference too much, as well as not picking up extra injuries.
Whilst nobody is claiming Rafa’s team can match Liverpool’s result and display last weekend, with a clear week following this game, Rafa Benitez will be able to play a full strength team, unlike the situation he found himself in when facing two key relegation matches in the five days that followed the Man City match at St James Park.
Rafa Benitez was vindicated in his team selection as Newcastle almost grabbed a draw against Manchester City with a late flurry of pressure and a few chances, as well as picking up four points from those Brighton and Stoke matches.
One lapse in concentration cost Newcastle in that game on 27 December and Jamaal Lascelles still has a remarkable record this season.
Like Michael Owen, Paul Merson has predicted a three goal victory for Man City, but in 17 PL starts this season Lascelles has never seen the opposition win by more than one goal and on only two occasions has anybody scored more than one goal.
The big question is whether Newcastle can get a goal at the other end of the pitch, then just maybe Rafa’s team can come away with something and upset the ‘experts’.
Paul Merson speaking to Sky Sports:
“I don’t think Man City are going to come up against a team like Liverpool for the rest of the season, particularly in those 20 minutes in the second half.
“They’re a bit downbeat at Newcastle at the moment; the takeover failing, they needed to beat Swansea but didn’t, I think it’s a bit subdued there.
“I think they just want to get this game out of the way, and make sure it’s not a huge defeat.
“I think it’s a case of leaving without many injuries and looking at how other teams got on below them.
“Prediction is Manchester City 3 Newcastle United 0.”
Manchester City v Newcastle Match Betting:
All Manchester City v Newcastle betting HERE
New customers to BetVictor qualify for up to a £40 welcome bonus in free bets.