Newcastle United versus Manchester City
THE LEAGUE CUP
(Capital One cup, Milk cup, Carling cup, Littlewoods Challenge cup, Rumbelows Cup, Worthington Cup, Coca-Cola Cup….call it what you will)
It’s the 4th Round (Last 16) which sees 13 Premier league teams and 3 Championship teams vying for a place in the quarter finals. Most teams will be fielding a mixed team with fringe players, youth players and a scattering of 1st teamers. I think Arsene Wenger has prioritised this competition over the last few seasons to try and get Piers Morgan off his back, however, with Arsenal having such a fantastic start to the Premier League Campaign, he might think again and re-prioritise his strategy for the coming season. It will certainly be interesting to see, as he is up against the loveable rogue and arch nemesis Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea. I think we will all view this with interest, hoping for extra time, penalties, a few sendings off and a couple of broken legs.
I think I now know how Jason Manford feels, he’s forever on tour and it seems like an age since he has been home (according to facebook and twitter). It’s the same for City, with Newcastle being our next fixture and 4th away game on the bounce. We finally seemed to have turned the corner with some good away results lately, a controlled game against the Hammers, a good win in Moscow although the last minute scare from Honda would have typified our away performances this season. Then there was Chelsea, where we snatched defeat from jaws of a good point and IMO we were the better team. No matter what the Portuguese twat says.
Overall, we have been very patchy this season, however, there is that old football Cliché (no, not our left back, Mr Niall Quinn, he is called Clichy) that is rolled out all the time “It’s a Game of Two Halves”. The problem we have is, this is true in a different sense for Manchester City. The oppositions half is where we look masterful and a match for any team. Then there is our own half where we look like a complete and utter Sunday league shambles. Until this little riddle gets unravelled by Mr Pellegrini, I feel our roller coaster journey is going to continue for some time yet.
The Game – City
City look certain to replace Joe Hart between the sticks for this game. Although the blame for Sundays debacle has divided opinion on whose fault it actually was! Saying that though, there is little doubt amongst the City fans that this has been coming for a while for Joe and he has been lucky to retain the number 1 spot for so long. Don’t get me wrong, I love Joe Hart and think he has all the attributes to be one of the best. Therefore, I think a good rest and some time to reflect just might give him that much needed kick up the arse to stop any act of complacency in the future.
His replacement in waiting, Costel Pantilimon could be seen as unlucky in his City Career. He had a fantastic run in the FA Cup last season playing in every game and only conceding one goal en route to the final, where he was replaced by Joe Hart, much to many fans annoyance. He has played one game this season so far which was the 3rd round tie versus Wigan, however I don’t think he had a single save to make in our 5-0 demolition job.
I can see wholesale changes for this game with a possible line up of:
Richards, DeMichelis, Lescott, Kolarov
Navas, Jovetic, Milner
Not bad for a 2nd string!
The loveable Geordies have had a mixed bag topsy turvy start to the season and consistency is something they are severely lacking. Coming off a very credible draw and great performance with 10 men against an in form Liverpool, they turned up for the North East Derby and had their pants pulled down by a Sunderland team which lacks any real quality. If Fabio Borini is your saviour, then god help you! However, this is what makes them dangerous, you never know which Newcastle is going to turn up. They will certainly have a point to prove following their 4-0 mauling at the hands of City in the premier league opening fixture, which will give Alan Pardew a bit of a conundrum.
Newcastle had admitted in a fans’ meeting the evening before the 3rd round game against Leeds that the cups “were not a priority” for the club, but Alan Pardew still named a strong side, with Mike Williamson the only player selected who is yet to make a Premier League appearance this season. They will be very wary of City’s strength of having quality in depth. This, on top of Newcastle’s next fixture being against Chelsea at home, for the early kick off on Saturday, Pardew will not relish extra time, that’s for sure.
I wouldn’t like to predict the line-up for the barcodes, however, I can see Pardew not taking a chance on the two players he has that are of real quality, in Cabaye and Ben Arfa. Maybe he will give the Ameobi brothers a run out up front and give Remy and Cisse a rest. I am also unsure if Tiote will be in the right frame of mind following his court conviction, which has driven him to distraction, but he may be given licence to play.
Fans – The Newcastle fans are one the better fans and I quite like them, although it was disappointing not to see them sell out their allocation for the game at the Etihad earlier this season, plus I have not seen the fat bastard for a while!
City have won the League Cup Twice, however, Newcastle have never won the cup and their only ever League cup final appearance was against City in 1976.
1970 – Manchester City (Doyle, Pardoe) 2 – 1 WBA (Astle)
(City had 10 English and 1 scot, WBA had 7 English and 4 scots in the starting 11)
1976 – Manchester City (Barnes, Tueart) 2 – 1 Newcastle (Gowling)
(City had 9 English and 2 scots, Newcastle had 10 English and 1 scot in the starting 11)
I think City will have more quality on the pitch and the players who are not deemed as regular 1st choice that are given an opportunity, will want to grasp it with both hands and give Manuel Pellegrini a thing or two to think about. Therefore, I will go for City to win by a couple of goals.
Disclaimer – my predictions this season have been shocking – however, it could be worse, my brother is even worse than me at it!!
Thanks for Reading