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Newcastle have an excellent record throughout 2022 so this will be a tough game, but a controlling performance from City should bring them all three points.
Pick made on 08/14/2022 at 04:17 PM EST
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This season, Manchester City are seeking to become only the second club in Premier League history to win the title three years on the bounce. Manchester United, their rivals from across the city, are the only other team to have done so since the top flight of English soccer was rebranded in 1992. It will not be easy, but Pep Guardiola’s side are once again widely fancied to finish on top of the pile this term. Their confident start to the season has only strengthened their status as favorites.
On the opening weekend of the campaign, City eased to a 2-0 victory over West Ham United. A few months earlier, Guardiola’s men had suffered a scare at the London Stadium, going 2-0 down before fighting back to draw 2-2 and remain in control of the title race. But their win this season was largely uneventful, save for Erling Haaland’s two goals – and that is exactly how Guardiola would have wanted it to be.
The 4-0 triumph over Bournemouth last time out was similarly routine. This time Haaland did not take center stage, with Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden getting on the scoresheet (as did Bournemouth’s Jefferson Lerma, who scored an own goal). City were typically fluent in possession, energetic without it and dominant in virtually every aspect of the game. A 4-0 win in these sort of matches is simply par for the course as far as City are concerned.
Bigger tests lie ahead, starting with Sunday’s trip to St James’ Park. City have won their last three visits to the ground, including a 4-0 thrashing of the hosts last December, but Newcastle are a much tougher proposition these days.
Eddie Howe’s side were not at their best last weekend, when they were somewhat fortunate to draw 0-0 with Brighton & Hove Albion. The Seagulls were the better team at the Amex Stadium and created more goalscoring opportunities, but Newcastle escaped with a clean sheet and a share of the spoils.
Still, it was a decent result away from home following on from their dominant display in a 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest seven days earlier, when Newcastle were in control from first whistle to last.
This has been a fantastic year for Newcastle so far. At the start of 2022, there were genuine fears that the Magpies were hurtling towards relegation to the Championship. But once Howe began to get his ideas across after a tricky start, Newcastle quickly shot up the table. They ultimately finished well clear of the drop zone in 11th, and are now looking forward rather than over their shoulders. Indeed, Europa League qualification rather than mere survival should be the objective this term.
Only Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have collected more points in 2022 than Newcastle, who are beginning to make St James’ Park a tough place to go again: since the turn of the year, Liverpool are the only team with a better points record in front of their own fans.
Guardiola is an attack-minded manager who wants to see his team score goals. He believes the domination of possession is the best way to achieve this, but his desire for control is often related to the defensive side of the game too.
We saw this approach in action at West Ham on the opening weekend of the campaign. City certainly tried to create chances, but their control of the ball was also intended as a way to keep their opponents quiet, particularly as Michail Antonio had caused them so many problems on the counter-attack in their previous trip to the London Stadium. The game plan worked a treat, as West Ham struggled to lay a glove on their opponents.
We are likely to see City adopt a similar approach on Sunday. They will seek to take the sting out of the game and quieten down the crowd in the early stages, as well as forcing Newcastle back into their defensive shape. The Magpies were proactive and defended high against Forest, but they will have to sit deeper and rely on the counter-attack here.
Allan Saint-Maximin is therefore the danger man, but Kyle Walker’s speed should help City to deal with the Frenchman’s forays forward. With the Premier League champions set to place an emphasis on control, this might not be a particularly high-scoring match – back an away win and under 2.5 goals, which looks like good value at the price offered.
Premier League: Manchester United vs Liverpool
Bundesliga: Bochum vs Bayern Munich
Bundesliga: Union Berlin vs RB Leipzig
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|Newcastle United vs Manchester City
|St James’ Park, Newcastle, England
|Sunday, 21 August 2022, 11.30 AM EST
|How to watch
|USA Network, fuboTV
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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