Manchester City’s first slip-up of the season at Molineux has certainly raised some eyebrows. Perhaps they’re mortal after all?
Admittedly, City hit the woodwork multiple times and conceded a handball goal – they could have won 5-0 in all honesty – but the cookie didn’t crumble in their favour…for once. While Wolves pressed high and took the game to City, this Newcastle side will be a totally different kettle of fish.
Rafa Benitez’s men will do no-such pressing, no-such attacking, no-such venturing outside their own half. They will be sitting back and defending and defending – not that there’s anything wrong with that, I hasten to add – in order to keep the game 0-0 as long as possible. Huddersfield’s demolition at The Etihad came from their pressing gone wrong, but Newcastle will be in no danger of suffering a similar humiliating fate.
Who can forget, as much as one might try, the horror show at St. James’ Park last year when Newcastle succumbed 1-0 to City with 22% possession? Rafa will be trying similar tricks this time around, which may make for a dull affair, but it’s undeniably effective.
We all know about what City are all about – they will be knocking on the door all afternoon, and they will win this game eventually, but I can’t see it being easy.
I’m backing a draw at half-time and a City win at the final whistle.
One man who was much-maligned after last season was Magpies striker Joselu. The Spaniard scored just four times last campaign, leaving fans bewildered when Benitez started him in their first match this time around, but with two goals in three matches this season, he’s set himself on the road to redemption.
His brilliant header against Chelsea screams of a player playing with confidence – something that certainly couldn’t be said last season – and it looks like he’ll be Newcastle’s best hope of finding the net this game.
He also has one appearance for Real Madrid in La Liga and one goal, so that’s nice.
If you back Joselu to have one shot on target or more, you’ll get great odds.
Newcastle had the best defence outside the top-seven last season: conceding a respectable 47 times, and they will need to draw upon all this resilience to keep out a City side who scored 106 times last year.
City have beaten Newcastle on their last nine visits to The Etihad, and I’m fully expecting the same result, but this Magpies side rarely get handed a pummelling; it’s their lack of quality going forward which is often their undoing.
My final tip is an outside bet dependent on Benitez’s men defending for their lives – which is something that they’re capable of: the first goal of the match to be scored between 75 minutes and full-time.
At $19, it may well be worth a punt.