The Manchester derby on Monday was widely dubbed the biggest game of the season but this clash now carries a similar level of importance.
Not only is it vital for City to cement their recently gained advantage by claiming three points from the toughest of their two remaining fixtures, the game is huge for the Magpies too. Alan Pardew’s side are edging closer to a Champions League spot after an emphatic win over fellow hopefuls Chelsea.
Any points at all against the new leaders would see top-level European football almost come within their grasp, while also impacting massively on the title race.
Newcastle United Preview
Newcastle have defied the odds to be sitting in fourth spot in May and full credit must go to Pardew for his achievements, chief among which, is arguably the £10 million January capture of Papiss Cisse. The Senegalese marksmanhas now bagged an unprecedented 13 goals for the north east club since his arrival, including two stunning strikes against Chelsea last time out.
Despite playing on Wednesday Newcastle are likely to keep largely the same team, although full-back Danny Simpson could return if he can shake off an ankle injury. Pardew clearly knows his best system and best 11 and will surely stick to it against the leaders. Newcastle have an exceptional home record this season and have won their last four in a row at the Sports Direct Arena.
Manchester City Preview
Roberto Mancini will have a difficult task in focusing the minds of his players for the trip to Newcastle after putting so much into the derby game. On Sunday, City have the advantage of playing first and therefore the opportunity to go three points clear before Manchester United kick off later in the afternoon. Mancini has this week claimed that the trip to Newcastle will be tougher than the derby game.
While the boss attempts to mentally prepare his side for the game, neutrals will surely look on with bewilderment as Carlos Tevez looks set to start another match. The Argentine has been instrumental in the recent change in fortunes for the blue half of Manchester, despite Mancini claiming earlier in the season that he would never feature again.
Newcastle v Man City Prediction
There is so much at stake for both clubs going into the game. City will start as narrow favourites but will no doubt feel an element of nerves in the Tyneside atmosphere. Don’t be surprised if Newcastle and Cisse upset the applecart and claim a precious point.