Newcastle United head into their 36th game of The Premier League season all but mathematically safe from relegation in 10th place and its a position beyond the wildest dreams of everyone connected with The Magpies back in November when Eddie Howe took the job as Newcastle Head Coach with the club deep in the relegation mire.
Its testimony to how far Newcastle have come since the takeover and January transfer window especially following a nine game unbeaten run and six Premier League wins in a row at St James' Park that one of the club's new co-owners Mehrdad Ghodoussi tweeted about the disappointment of not beating all-conquering Liverpool last week:
The St James' Park encounter ended with a narrow 1-0 win to Liverpool with Naby Keita scoring the games only goal and Eddie Howe echoed the owner's disappointment.
Next up is a trip to The Champions and a possibly still shell-shocked Man City, who crashed out of The Champions League on Wednesday night 3-1 to Real Madrid after extra time after conceding two goals in two minutes after the 90 minutes of normal time to let the chance of facing Liverpool in Paris in the Final slip through their gasp:
Following the game, a defiant Guardiola who looked crest-fallen following the defeat that means club football's greatest prize once again eludes him, told media that Man City will bounce back after a short rest and they will be desperate to see out their Premier League win and win the title or risk ennding the season winning nothing:
"We need time now, we need one or two days. But we will rise, we will come up.
"Now we need to process that and come back, with our people at home and in the last four games we have."
Nobody will be underestimating a Man City side who could well be a wounded animal in Newcastle's camp yet it was no surprise to this writer than once again they filled to attain the heights of European football's greatest summit constantly being inflated in The Premier League due to the dodgy decisions they constanty benefit from:
In December's game between Newcastle and Man City at St James' Park, The Magpies were on the receiving end of one of those shocking decisions when Ryan Fraser was wiped out by keeper Ederson but somehow escaped conceding a definite penalty:
Eddie Howe and the January signings have transformed Newcastle since then and it was only due to VAR machinations or lack of them that Howe didn't extend his excellent record at Stamford Bridge in March to cruelly end the club's unbeaten run at Chelsea & he will have a point to prove at one of the toughest places to go in English football.
He is bolstered by the return of Newcastle no.9 striker Callum Wilson, who has trained all week with The Magpies for the first time since his December injury & his presence immediately doubles the goal threat of Howe's men:
Even a second half cameo from the bench would gladden Geordie hearts and instil fear in Guardiola and Man City and The Etihad is a ground where Wilson has scored at whilst at Bournemouth under Eddie Howe and the striker teased his prowess on Instagram:
Howe also revealed in his presser that Man City youth product turned England international Kieran Trippier is back in training although slightly behind Wilson in his progress from injury whilst Fabian Schar is a doubt following an injury picked up against Liverpool so it could well be a rejigged Magpies line-up both in defence and attack yet Newcastle will be at their strongest possible in each game until the end of the season.
It'll be a tough test for Newcastle whatever side Guardiola picks from his opulent squad as Man City look to win all four games left - against Newcastle, away to West Ham and Wolves, and home to Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa - to ensure Liverpool don't steal their Premier League crown which looked an unassailable task back in December.
Prediction - Newcastle 2 Man City 1