Blog by: Puneeth
When Manchester City take on Aston Villa, hunting season will be sounded and the opening day will finally end. At the top of the list will be all new Manchester City on display, with spanking new players and a relatively shiny manager.
Newcastle will be lagging far behind in terms of sheen, with their newest addition, Loic Remy, facing a calf strain and Joe Kinnear, director of football, who doesn’t count really as a plus.
The hopeful quiet revolution that Manuel Pellegrini is trying to invoke at the Etihad will face its first test and Alan Pardew will hope to put up a brave front. Here are three things to look out for at the Etihad.
Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo and Stevan Jovetic are names that can seriously pose a challenge to Manchester United’s, the reigning champions, hold on the EPL trophy.
A blistering attack with Jovetic at the lead, a nimble yet strong Fernandinho and the width-providing Navas will help City tire out their opposition pretty soon.
Negredo, the probable first change, now that Sergio Aguero looks likely to return, will hope to add to his proven goal-scoring abilities.
Chilean Manuel Pellegrini is new to the board as well, after he replaced the outgoing Roberto Mancini. Pellegrini has worked wonders with his previous clubs, inclusive of Real Madrid, Villareal and Malaga, all of which made it to the Champions League.
The Citizens are aware that the array of talent brought in is nothing short of spectacular, especially because it is in addition to the existing stars, and not in place of. City might just be one of the teams to watch this season, and this prediction is purely based on their immense team sheet.
Adding to the money issues that plague Newcastle, the decision to take on Joe Kinnear didn’t go down very well with the Toon faithful. His earlier stint with the club in 2008-09 as manager wasn’t the best of times for the club, with the occasional verbal tirade getting him into a soup.
In a recent radio interview, Kinnear mispronounced the names of Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi, among others, adding fuel to the already brisk flame.
Over and above the needless tension that exists in the club, they are short in the talent department too. Remy is the only player who has come in over the summer, that too on a season-long loan from the now relegated Queens Park Rangers. And he is nowhere close to making an impact after he was sidelined with an injury and may not be available until September.
That leaves only two fit strikers to deploy, a situation Alan Pardew is quite familiar with, after he faced a similar conundrum after the departure of Demba Ba to Chelsea.
Pardew has also clearly stated that the Magpies cannot compete in the top tier of football clubs given the highly inflated transfer market.
Ryan Taylor is out with a knee issue, and may not feature until the end of the entire campaign. Jonas Gutierrez may be introduced after his return from a calf niggle, but Davide Santon has been completely ruled out, leaving 21-year-old left-back Paul Dummett as the last choice.
The transfer window is quickly closing, and Pardew needs a leg up if he wants to better last year’s 16th place finish with 41 points, only 5 clear of the relegation zone.
At the Etihad, fireworks are in order. The fact that Newcastle have never won a single game here and haven’t pipped City in their last 13 meetings will hopefully add purpose to the side’s outing.
But when we say goals here, we clearly mean City going ballistic at home. Newcastle lack the firepower to cross this particular hurdle, and the home side will completely shut down most forays right in the middle of the park.
City had the best defence in the Premiership last year, with 18 clean sheets. They also conceded the fewest goals (34) in the season, and there is no reason why Newcastle will suddenly undo the backline.
City were also the only team to score in every home game last season and this time, boast of four options up front, with Aguero, Negredo, Jovetic and Dzeko.
Aguero and Dzeko may just miss out on this one as Pellegrini may want to get the newcomers off the mark. With David Silva, Navas, Fernandinho and Nasri in the midfield, City are certain to run amok.
Also, Yaya Toure may just find his way to the score sheet, having scored three goals in his last three meetings with the away team.