Monday, December 31, 2012
Posted: 31 Dec 2012 04:17 AM PST
Fresh off the back of six defeats in eight games, the last thing we need right now is a visit from the English champions. St James's Park should be packed on a freezing early kick-off this Saturday as Manchester City come to town, desperate to get back to winning ways themselves.
This tie has all the makings of a classic, with Newcastle standing firm at home against the billionaires from Manchester (well, Abu Dhabi). Neither side is playing particularly well at the moment; for while we continue our slide down the division thanks to five league defeats in six, City lost in the league for the first time this season to rivals Manchester United in the last minute of the game.
Of course, Roberto Mancini's side will start as slender favourites on Betfair, and they will be out to banish Sunday's gut-wrenching defeat from their minds, but United's goals exposed weaknesses in their defence that Pardew's men can target on Saturday.
The first was typical United, a stinging counter attack well rounded off by Wayne Rooney. City's defence was all at sea during the move, Vincent Kompany (who later went off injured) caught high up the pitch and unable to get back, leaving a gap perfect for Rooney to slot home. United's second was as simple as the first, with no City player picking up the composed Rooney inside the 18 yard box.
If Newcastle are to beat City they must fight fire with fire and try and outscore the champions. Both Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse have the talent and brains to elude defenders and with the precision balls of Hatem Ben Arfa finding them should not be a problem. Top scorer Ba is unsurprisingly favourite on Betfair to score first, though a strike from Cisse would be welcome, given he has hit just one in eight games across all competitions.
Yet Pardew must get his men to resist going direct towards the front two and keep it on the floor. Too often on Monday night at Fulham balls were whipped into the box only for Fulham's Brede Hangeland and Chris Baird to head clear. We were no threat against big defenders and Kompany will eat up aerial crosses all day.
If Newcastle are to win this game we need to be confident going forward and use City's defensive misgivings to our advantage.
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