|Erling Haaland and Allan Saint Maximin will underline their importance to their respective clubs on Saturday when they meet at the Etihad, who would come out tops? (Photo credit: Inside Sport)|
The premier league has gotten to a point where teams now understand there’s no longer margins for errors and only maximum points count, especially at both ends of the table and teams like City and Newcastle understand what that means.
The Magpies lost at Wembley to Manchester United in their first final in many decades but they can be proud of how well they showed up despite the odds that stood against them; now it’s time to look at finishing strongly in the league.
European places, not the least champions league is still possible for Eddie Howe’s men and if they do their business here, same way they did in the first leg and throw respect out of the window, they just might do what would have been impossible at this stage last season.
Manchester City sits five points behind Arsenal despite temporarily usurping the Gunners just two weeks ago; that unexpected 1-1 draw at the City Ground two weekends ago ruined their script as well as Arsenal’s strong performance in midweek.
This City side has it in them to go on rampage but they haven’t gone four straight wins this season, how then do they plan to dust Arsenal off the title race? Newcastle shouldn’t threaten them on paper but in reality, this side doesn’t look like the one we’re used to.
How will they both line up? Newcastle can call on Nick Pope again after the former Burnley man served his one match ban for a professional foul against Liverpool that saw him miss the game at Wembley and their quest for champions league football might just be underlined at the Etihad.
There’s no champions league distractions in midweek until the next one so City can focus here and deliver a result that would put the pressure on Arsenal but should Pep Guardiola’s side refuse to win, they might be looking at seven or eight points grounds to cover.
Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva were the stars for the Cityzens when they had to do it the hard way at St. James’s Park in the first leg, Riyad Mahrez and Phil Foden might be needed to help things out in the second; Kevin De Bruyne is back fit and he would come in handy on day like this.
Bruno Guimaraes is available for selection and Alexander Isak should be too; Newcastle forced a 3-3 draw in the first leg against the champions, a game they’d feel they should have won, can they do it again to help their champions league quest?