Manchester City vs Newcastle – Preview

Rafael Benitez may attempt to stifle Manchester City on Saturday but it will surely be to no avail as Pep Guardiola’s team will be keen to return to winning ways against Newcastle United after last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.

Rafa magic wearing off?

There have been murmurings of discontent on Tyneside after Benitez employed extremely defensive tactics for the home loss to Chelsea, a result that was followed by a midweek EFL Cup defeat at the hands of Championship side Nottingham Forest.

The former Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss has undoubtedly been shackled in the transfer market by Mike Ashley and a narrow defeat to Maurizio Sarri’s team may be tolerated, but the limp display at The City Ground was harder to defend.

There may be more brickbats heading Benitez’s way after Saturday’s match as the current Newcastle side simply do not have the ammunition to trouble last season’s runaway champions.

Recent history is certainly not in the Magpies’ favour either as they have not managed to beat City in any of their last 21 top-flight matches, losing 18 of them.

Aguero could run riot

Manchester City have won their last nine Premier League home matches against Newcastle while Sergio Aguero has found the net an incredible 14 times against Saturday’s opponents.

The Argentinean striker has started the campaign superbly, scoring a hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Huddersfield Town after netting both goals at Wembley in the Community Shield victory against Chelsea. The 30-year-old will be confident of finding the net again this weekend and is 3.20 to open the scoring.

In the corresponding fixture last season, Aguero scored all three goals as Guardiola’s team eased to a 3-1 victory, while Jacob Murphy was on target for the visitors.

City stronger than last season

Raheem Sterling, 4.75 to score the first goal, grabbed the only goal of the game at St James’ Park over the festive period last term as City completed the double over Benitez’s outfit.

If anything, City are even stronger this season than last, when they romped to their third Premier League title in seven years, although the absence of the injured Kevin de Bruyne is bound to affect them.

Goal-shy Geordies already have issues

In contrast Newcastle, 4.35 to be relegated, are at best at the same level as 2017-18 when they managed to finish 10th despite losing 18 games and only scoring 39 times.

Benitez’s decision to sell Aleksandar Mitrovic to Fulham and bring in the far less prolific Salomon Rondon from West Brom as a replacement seems strange while Kenedy’s start to the campaign has been at best disappointing.

With Newcastle almost certain to embark on a damage-limitation exercise against Guardiola’s prolific team, it is difficult to see where the Toon’s goals are going to come from. If City manage to score an early goal it could turn out to be a very messy evening for Benitez and his players, with the Citizens 4.25 to win by three.

However, it may be worth having a punt on there being no goals in the first half on Saturday at odds of 4.50.