Newcastle vs Man CityEnglish Premier League, KO: 19:45 Jan 29, 2019, St James' Park
RAFA BENITEZ loves a defensive masterplan but he'll be hard pushed to come up with a way to stop free-scoring City trampling all over his relegation strugglers.
Newcastle suffered their customary early FA Cup exit – a listless 2-0 defeat at home to Watford – on Saturday to leave the Premier League survival battle as their sole focus for the rest of the season.
They're hovering perilous close to danger, just a place and two points above third-bottom Cardiff, and anything other than defeat here would be an unexpected bonus.
The Magpies' home record is the third worst in the top flight – just 10 points collected from a possible 36 – and Benitez will set his team up in ultra-defensive damage limitation mode.
The hosts had just 26 per cent while restricting City to a 1-0 win in this fixture last season and earlier this campaign they went down 2-1 at the Etihad with 22 per cent possession after DeAndre Yedlin grabbed a breakaway equaliser.
They haven't beaten City in the league since 2005 and it would be an achievement just getting on the scoresheet this time – over 0.5 Toon goals is 11-10 at Black Type – against the rampant champions who've scored 29 goals without reply in their last six games.
As if Newcastle's task wasn't hard enough, they're weakened by a host of absences with midfield particularly affected. Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame, Ki Sung-Yueng and Yoshinori Muto all miss out, with youngster Sean Longstaff and fringe player Isaac Hayden set to start.
City are just as desperate for points as Newcastle as Pep Guardiola's side try to overhaul leaders Liverpool who have a four-point cushion at the top.
City are still fighting on four fronts and rested main men such as Aymeric Laporte, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling for the weekend cup thrashing of Burnley but will be back to full strength on Tyneside.
Their miserly defence and fact they'll dominate possession makes a City win to nil at evens with BetVictor an attractive prospect.
Even if Newcastle fall behind they won't open up to try to get back in the game, knowing it would be suicide against City's lethal pacy attackers. The last five meetings at St James' Park have all gone under 2.5 goals and a City win and under 3.5 should give a run for our money at 6-5 with Betway.
Flying German winger Sane is joint highest assist provider in the Premier League with nine in just 15 appearances. He has set up four goals in his last three games in league and cup and is worth taking to deliver again at 19-10 with 888Sport.
This English Premier League match between Newcastle and Man City will be played on Jan 29, 2019 and kick off at 19:45