Newcastle can slow the Man City juggernaut

Posted by Marc Duffy

Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty ImagesLoic Remy and Newcastle hope to exploit Manchester City's shaky away form when the two sides meet this weekend.

Manchester City, probably the richest club in world football thanks to the financial power of Sheikh Mansour, head to St James' Park on Sunday as bookmakers' favourites to win a second Premier League in three years, but a win for them in this game won't be as easy as some seem to think.

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Things could have been different. In fact, this game could well have been played in a reversal of positions had Mansour opted to buy the Tyneside club as he was rumoured to be considering.

While all Newcastle fans look on enviously at City's successes, few begrudge their supporters for what they now have, although a lot of Newcastle followers claim to be pleased that their club is not bank-rolled by one of the world's super rich.

Their argument is that one day there will be a more high-profile version of what happened to Anzhi Makhachkala in Russia. Anzhi spent millions under their billionaire owner before he recently pulled the plug and listed the entire squad for sale. They are currently bottom of the Russian Premier League with no wins from 19 games.

Personally, I would trade positions with City any day. We can only dream of what it must be like to win the league, let alone do it in the dramatic style that City snatched it in 2012. Those dreams almost became reality back in the mid 1990's, but the way football is heading, it is highly unlikely we will see Newcastle win it in my lifetime.

It is also good to see that so far most Manchester City fans don't seem to have changed. They still don't have the arrogance and sense of entitlement that supporters of a few other Premier League clubs suffer from. In fact, when I was out and about in Manchester before the season opener between these two, I was surprised by how many blues weren't really confident that they'd win the game, even though before that 4-0 win they'd had eight consecutive victories over the Magpies.

Like Newcastle, City underachieved for years, even dropping down to the third division in 1998 -- a depth Newcastle have never plummeted to in their history.

Looking back through the records, I wasn't surprised to see that the clubs have faced each other in only 16 of the last 30 seasons because of the number of relegations and promotions.

There have been a few transfers between the two clubs in recent years. Bobby Robson sold them Steve Howey for three million pounds and also managed to convince them to part with 1.5 million pounds for Laurent Charvet. Graeme Souness signed Antoine Sibierski on a free and Sam Allardyce sent six million pounds down to Manchester in exchange for Joey Barton.

There have been managerial connections between the two clubs over the years also -- most notably Kevin Keegan who managed City for almost four years in between his two spells as manager of Newcastle.

Back to Sunday's game -- a tough task for Newcastle will be even harder without the suspended Matthieu Debuchy and injured captain Fabricio Coloccini, although both have able deputies in Davide Santon and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa. Tim Krul and Yohan Cabaye should both return to the team after alleged injuries ruled them out of the FA Cup defeat to Cardiff.

Some bookmakers have Newcastle at odds as long as 4-1! That is astonishing for a home game against a team that have already lost on the road to Cardiff, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Sunderland, and have won only four of their ten league away games this season. A result for Newcastle is far from impossible.

The fact that City have conceded 17 goals in those ten games should give Loic Remy & Co. real belief.

It will be very interesting to see how Alan Pardew sends his team out. I suspect we will see a similar defensive and counter approach to the game that worked in the wins over Chelsea and Manchester United, but failed badly against Arsenal. And I believe that if I'm right, Newcastle will lose. Manchester City have far too much attacking talent to manage with that approach, as evidenced by their 57 goals (11 more than next best).

It's time for Pardew to end his 100% defeat record as Newcastle manager against the Citizens.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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