RAFA BENITEZ picked up just one point from his first four games in charge of Newcastle so a victory against Swansea on Saturday was the perfect birthday gift.
Sunderland’s win at Norwich at lunchtime meant Newcastle had to win although 3-0 flattered them against a side who missed a few chances.
The birthday celebrations only ended when Benitez realised his side were facing Champions League semi-finalists Man City on Tuesday.
The win over Swansea closed the gap on Sunderland to two and Norwich to three but time’s running out and whatever happens two of the three strugglers will join Aston Villa in the Championship.
Benitez will have been made aware of his side’s record against the Etihad side. Man City have won 12 Premier League matches in a row against Newcastle and if they make it 13 that will equal the record of 13 straight victories against one opponent – that was Man United v Wigan.
City have won six of their last seven at St James’s Park and the last six Premier League meetings have gone in their favour by an aggregate of 23-1.
More bad news for Rafa is the form of Sergio Aguero. The Argentine hit a hat-trick at Chelsea on Saturday and has netted 10 in eight games versus Newcastle – more than he’s scored against any other team apart from 10 against Spurs.
I’ll be on Aguero at 5-6 with William Hill to score – just like Jordan – and he is 3-1 at Ladbrokes and William Hill to break the deadlock. On-form Kevin de Bruyne could also find the target and is 2-1 at 888sport.
I’d be happier backing City to score 2+ rather than win and that pays 3-5 with McBookie.
There’s nothing for it but a positive approach from Newcastle who can’t afford to lose and with City again without skipper Vincent Kompany both sides could be on target.
Newcastle are better organised and showing more fight under Rafa but the Swansea success was his first and this will be a much tougher test against Champions League semi-finalists who need the points to stay on track for the top four.
Aguero to score
(5-6, William Hill)
Man City and over 2.5 goals