Newcastle vs Man CityEnglish Premier League, KO: 12:30 Nov 30, 2019, St James' Park
MANCHESTER City appear to have lost their mojo and they can ill-afford a slip-up when they lock horns with Newcastle United on Saturday lunchtime.
The Citizens make the short trip to Tyneside where they will continue their pursuit of Premier League pacesetters Liverpool, who they currently trail by nine points.
Pep Guardiola's men will be presented with the opportunity to reduce the arrears to six – at least temporarily – when they square off with Newcastle at St James' Park this weekend.
The Magpies have made a mixed start to their league campaign having picked up 15 points from their opening 13 matches – a tally that sees Steve Bruce's side start the weekend in 14th place in English top-flight.
Newcastle are coming into this clash off the back of a 2-0 defeat away at Aston Villa on Monday night – a performance in which boss Bruce described as “passive”.
However, Newcastle are proving to be a tough nut to crack in the North East – they are unbeaten in their last five matches at St James' Park – however, star-studded City will undoubtedly represent their toughest home assignment to date.
Pep's champs carved out a 2-1 win at home to Chelsea last weekend to keep their fragile title defence alive and the bookmakers believe the Blue Moon will make it back-to-back league wins by making Man City odds-on favourites at 1/6 (BetVictor)
Both of the aforementioned prices will attract some attention and although I'm not tempted enough to get the Toon Army on side, I suspect this battle could be a lot closer than what the betting suggests.
City's defensive deficiencies have been well-documented and Guardiola appears to struggling to fix the cracks in City's backline – the Premier League champions have only registered one clean sheet in their last eight matches.
Indeed, City will enjoy the lion's share of possession at St James', however, given the visitors defensive vulnerability, coupled with the attacking threat that Newcastle will carry from set-pieces, I fancy the Magpies to hit the back of the net on Saturday.
Having a punt on both teams to score appeals at 23/20 (UniBet) , however, I'm going to take a more conservative approach by simply backing Bruce's boys to make the net bulge at an eye-catching Evens (Bet 365)
What's more, City are entering this early kick-off after a taxing midweek tussle with Shakhtar Donetsk and they will also be without star-striker Sergio Aguero who sustained a thigh injury in last week's victory over Chelsea.
Therefore, expect Guardiola to look towards Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling to deliver goals, however, I'm going to opt for an alternative betting angle that involves City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.
The brilliant Belgian got on the scoresheet last weekend and given his attacking prowess as well as his shooting ability from distance, I like the look of the 4/6 (William Hill) on offer for De Bruyne to have at least one shot on target.
Whether or not De Bruyne makes the goalkeeper work remains to be seen, however, Pep's superstars may have to be patient here when trying to find their way through a rigid and well-organised Newcastle rearguard.
The hosts have the second-best defensive home record in the division – having conceded only four goals on home turf thus far – and given that City are not playing with their traditional swagger, a closely-fought encounter could be in store on Tyneside.
Although I wouldn't back against Man City, I would not at all be surprised to see Newcastle make this an awkward afternoon for the reigning champions.
Therefore, I'm going to side with the Magpies with a 2.25 goal start on the Asian handicap at 10/13 (UniBet) – a betting angle that would only fail to generate a return in the event that Newcastle lose by three or more goals.
The Toon have only been toppled once on their own turf this term to date – and that was by a solitary strike – not to mention, Man City have netted two or fewer goals in seven of their last 10 outings.
This English Premier League match between Newcastle and Man City will be played on Nov 30, 2019 and kick off at 12:30