Saturday, 5 May 2012

City vs Newcastle: Match Preview

Same again please... 44 years on!

By Dave Walker

If history repeats itself at St James’ Park tomorrow afternoon, Manchester City will be just one step away from being proclaimed Premier league champions.

It’s 44 years since a marauding City, under Joe Mercer & Malcolm Allison, took Tyneside by storm winning the last game of the season 4-3, and with it the old Division One Championship.

The parallels between then and Roberto Mancini’s team are uncanny; if City win it will be their 10th away victory of the season – the same as 1968. Thus far City have recorded 17 home wins – the same as 1968 – but that will surely change to 18 with a win over QPR on 13 May.

Photo: Ian Walton/Getty Images Europe
The fact City are neck and neck with United is just as it was more than four decades ago with the red side of Manchester still to play Sunderland on the last day. An already doomed Sunderland scored a surprise 2-1 back then – a similar outcome would do just nicely if repeated in 2012.

The beauty is City are masters of their own destiny because of the +8 goal advantage they hold over their fierce rivals. Monday night’s momentous 1-0 win means six more points would see City installed as champions and possibly usher in an era of Blue Moon domination of the English game.

But – and there’s so often been a ‘but’ where City are concerned – Alan Pardew’s rejuvenated Toon troops present a formidable hurdle, not least in the shape of free-scoring Pappis Cisse.

With 13 goals in just 12 appearances the Senegalese sensation has already equalled a Premier League record for most goals scored in a player’s first dozen games.

Fuelled by Fergie’s last throw of the mind games’ dice, many in the United loving media pack, are convinced Cisse will shoot down City’s title bid as Newcastle attempt to secure a lucrative Champions League’s berth for themselves.

The stakes couldn’t be much higher. The entire hullabaloo around Cisse has completely overshadowed the threat posed by a City side that has amassed 87 goals and conceded just 27 all season.

Does anyone really think Newcastle are relishing playing City as they scrap it out for 4th or even 3rd place? If there are any nerves on show it is just as likely to come from either team.

Having won the battle against United, City now have to go on and win the war.

In captain, Vincent Kompany, the Blues have the finest of men to lead both on and off the field. He is exemplary in all ways and if he and the outstanding Joleon Lescott can shackle Cisse and strike partner, Demba Ba, then the spoils should be heading City’s way.

With 180 minutes of the season remaining squad rotation is no longer a factor, so Mancini can keep a settled first eleven, with maybe just the one change of Micah Richards in for the ever dependable Pablo Zabaleta. Richards speed, strength and attacking flair will help nullify the left wing threat of Ba.

The magpie related nursery rhyme says ‘one for sorrow, two for joy…’ but it’ll be three points that will have City supporters jumping over the Blue Moon by Sunday evening.

Player watch

                                            Cheick Tiote             vs            Yaya Toure

                Photo 1: Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe  Photo 2: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images Europe

If Tiote is passed fit after the hefty blow to his head at Chelsea in midweek, then St James’ Park will witness a muscular, no hold barred encounter straight out of Africa.

The two Ivory Coast international team mates will park the fraternal brotherhood affection - enjoyed by so many footballers from the African continent – for a potentially bruising midfield duel.

Strong, combative and ultra competitive, both players will give no quarter and both are capable of grabbing important goals from behind the front men.

Yaya, at his thunderous best, should help drive City on to the all-important win but it won’t be easy.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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