Newcastle vs Manchester City | Friday 14th May 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Without kicking a ball on Tuesday night, Manchester City secured their third Premier League title in four seasons thanks to Leicester City’s victory over a heavily weakened Manchester United. After squandering the chance to secure the title themselves last weekend when losing at home to Chelsea, Pep Guardiola will no doubt still be seeking a response when making the trip to now safe Newcastle United.
Guardiola described his latest Premier League crown as ‘the hardest one’, and having already claimed the Carabao Cup and a Champions League final still to come, it could still be the most memorable of campaigns for the Etihad Stadium club, but before attentions turn to Istanbul/Porto/Wembley, they still have three league contests to negotiate.
Newcastle have had their own agenda in recent times as they looked to avoid relegation into the Championship, and an excellent 4-2 success at Leicester City put that equation to bed mathematically. They can now at least approach their final three battles without any degree of pressure, and the underdog tag which they’ll have here will no doubt suit, too.
St James’ Park hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for Pep, as his three Premier League visits saw them win 1-0, draw 2-2 after twice taking the lead, and lose 2-1 after scoring the first goal. What could work in their favour this time however is the fact that they did lose to Chelsea last time out.
Motivation should still be high, even if they don’t need the points. Pep made some changes for that Chelsea game having had the Champions League semi-final second leg only a few days prior. Therefore, we could very well see the likes of De Bruyne, Foden, Gundogan, Mahrez and Silva returning, to name just a few.
Even though Newcastle have nothing to play for, I don’t think we’ll necessarily see a drastic change of tactics here. The plan will be to get bodies behind the ball and make the most of counter attacks and set pieces. This plan worked so well at Leicester, but only twice this season have they won back-to-back, and it could be that Newcastle may be ‘on the beach’ mentally now that the job is done. A full St James’ Park would be most helpful on a night such as this.
Now City have the title, I actually fancy them even more strongly here. I was thinking it would maybe be a close game, as Newcastle have at least been hard to beat recently, losing only two in 10.
As I mentioned, Pep will recall the big guns here, as there is no need to rest anyone for the Champions League Final just yet. Whilst Newcastle have beaten the likes of Leicester, West Ham and Everton this season, they’ve still been easily beaten by Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal twice, whilst City cantered to a 2-0 home win in the last head-to-head encounter.
Man City Win Both Halves at 44/25 (Sporting Index) appeals to me. Only Chelsea have done so more than City in the league this season, and I really expect them to play with real freedom and enjoyment. Furthermore, only lowly Sheffield United have lost both halves more than Newcastle.
Secondly, Man City Over 1.5 Second Half Goals at 14/11 (VBet) was something I was interested in anyway, even before Leicester won at Old Trafford to hand the Citizens to league crown.
Bruce’s side may be relatively stubborn to start with, but they’ll have to open up eventually, and I just don’t see the away side letting their foot off the accelerator here. That was highlighted quite nicely in their recent away clash at Crystal Palace, when scoring a second goal almost instantly after going 1-0 up.
A bit of a speculative play I have chosen is Riyad Mahrez To Score 2+, which pays 42/5 (Sporting Index). He didn’t even get onto the pitch for the Chelsea game, meaning he is well refreshed for this one. He has become one of Pep’s first men on the team sheet, and he’ll be keen to get back among the goals in the build-up to the UCL Final.
He fired twice against PSG last week, and also netted in the first leg. The former Leicester man is also their third-highest Premier League scorer this season, and is also ranked third at the club for average shots per game.
Newcastle v Man City – Man City Win Both Halves (44/25 Sporting Index)
Newcastle v Man City – Man City Over 1.5 Second Half Goals (14/11 VBet)
Newcastle v Man City – Riyad Mahrez To Score 2+ (42/5 Sporting Index)