Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has told the Shields Gazette he is convinced that his side can match Manchester City in their opening game of the season on Monday.
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In stark contrast to Newcastle's single loan signing this summer -- the arrival of Loic Remy from QPR -- City boss Manuel Pellegrini has invested almost £100 million in his squad.
Pardew, facing up to the financial disparity between the two clubs, takes his side to the Eithad stadium knowing they have failed to beat City in their previous nine attempts.
Nevertheless, the 52-year-old said he remained optimistic and that belief remained high. “If you look at all of the top teams since I’ve been here, we’ve beaten them all -- apart from Man City,” he said.
“So maybe I’m due. We haven’t played well at their stadium at the Etihad - there’s no doubt about that. We have played well in patches there, but you have to put it together for 90 minutes to get a result against them.
“They are one of those teams, and with the quality they’ve got after spending £90 million, they can unlock you when you are just thinking you’re doing well. It’s how you react to that. It’s important that we have a really good psychology. Through long periods of the game they might dominate, but we must always carry a threat.”
Those sentiments were echoed by midfielder Moussa Sissoko, with the 23-year-old urging fans to believe ahead of the clash.
The France international was keen to turn his attentions to the Magpies' key players, revealing he has faith in their ability to cause an upset in their opening game of the season.
He told the Evening Chronicle: “We know that the game is very hard because they have signed so many big players.
"Man City have Fernandinho, Navas and Negredo -- they are all top players in the world. That’s not easy for Newcastle, but we go to City still thinking we can win. We have plenty of belief here. When you play for Newcastle, you have to believe. And we have big players, too, like Cabaye, Gouffran and Hatem Ben Arfa. I believe in my team-mates. Hopefully I will play well too.
“We’re looking forward to the game. When you play a game against Manchester City, the emotion you feel is excitement. It’s a big game and they have big players. All we should be thinking of is to play well and it is possible that we can win. Now it is better because I have been able to play together with the team.”
Hatem Ben Arfa returns to the scene of a disastrous leg-break he suffered just weeks into his Newcastle career in a challenge with Nigel De Jong, and Pardew believes the mercurial wideman will be vital to the club’s hopes of success this season.
“Hatem has played 40% of our games since he’s been here and we’ve got to improve that ratio,” he told the Journal. You can’t legislate for tackle he got at City. It was a terrible tackle and the boy [Nigel de Jong] apologised. That injury knocked a big hole in that percentage, when he would have been fit.
“He’s a player where we’re very, very conscious of the need to manage him, not just physically but mentally too, because he is a maverick -- that’s what gives him his strength and makes him what he is. That doesn’t mean to say he’s great all the time -- we need to focus on Hatem and he needs to focus on us. For him, the goal is to have a fantastic season and be in France’s World Cup team, and I think he has a chance of doing both.”