Manchester City vs Newcastle United preview and tip: Goals could be precious at the Etihad
This mouthwatering clash at the Etihad Stadium see two of the richest clubs on the globe meeting in a vital clash which could have huge implications on the title race.
Arsenal lead the Premier League by five points after extending their lead at the summit on Wednesday evening with a routine 4-0 victory at the expense of a struggling Everton side.
This weekend feels like a key match week with Manchester City facing one of their toughest tests of the campaign so far. Back in August when it all began, Newcastle and City played out a 3-3 thriller in front of the St James faithful. The Magpies led that game 3-1 before second half goals from Bernardo Silva and the inevitable Erling Haaland rescued a point for the Champions. It would be great to see another glut of goals, but as the title race tightens up, so sometimes do teams' attacking ambitions.
Pep Guardiola will have to find a way to ensure his side avoids this obvious banana skin. Arsenal failed to beat Newcastle at the Emirates, so can City ensure they don't make the same mistake at a vital period in their season? Newcastle come into this fixture on the back of major disappointment following their 2-0 defeat to Manchester United at Wembley last week in the EFL League Cup Final. Eddie Howe, with the help of some major investment, has transformed the North East giants from relegation candidates into genuine challengers in every competition in which they appear. It is imperative that Newcastle respond positively to last week's disappointment and focus on obtaining a dream seat at Europe's top table next season in the form of the Champions League. Nick Pope, who is possibly Newcastle's player of the season, will return for this one following his heartbreaking absence in the Cup Final after a straight red card against Liverpool the week before. The former Burnley goalkeeper is a key man for Eddie Howe and is the main reason why Newcastle boast such a solid defensive record this campaign. Pep Guardiola will be desperate for his team to put a run together if they are going to reel Arsenal in towards the back end of the season. Last weekend's 4-1 win at Bournemouth and a 3-0 midweek cup victory at Bristol City have no doubt provided some much needed confidence, although Guardiola will know that this test is completely different. Kevin De Bruyne has been suffering from illness, but he did play a part in the midweek cup success and it is likely he will be in the starting line-up on Saturday. The return of the Belgian will be music to the ears of Erling Haaland, who has appeared visibly frustrated at the lack of service he has received in recent games. Newcastle started the cup final like a train before ultimately succumbing to a relentless Manchester United side. If Eddie Howe's side can start with a similar vigour in this game, Pep's men will struggle for control, which should lead to a game of fewer chances for his side. Goals are likely to come at a premium in what is likely to be a heavily competitive fixture. Opposing goals in any game involving City is obviously a risk, but Newcastle's defensive record should make this tough for the Citizens offensively. With that in mind, under 2.75 goals at just under even money could be a smart play, while under 2.5 goals offers more reward as a bolder bettor.
Paul Bathurst provides football tips as Soccer Sharp on the Tipstrr platform
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