Newcastle United must bounce back from the disappointment of defeat at Wembley Stadium in The Carabao Cup against Manchester United last Sunday and regroup to face the other half of Manchester - Pep Guardiola's Champions Man City - in The Premier League in the 12.30pm kick off on Saturday afternoon to get their League season back on track and hopes of Europe and still potentially The Champions League.
Newcastle's amazing fanbase descended on England's capital city London in their tens of thousands and showed their Manchester United counterparts how to support their team but were undone in the match itself in all-too familiar circumstances with a goal with a distinct whiff of VARchester United about it with striker Wout Weghorst clearly in an offside position but supposedly not interfering in play:
and ESPN's VAR expert Dale Johnson wrote that Casemiro himself may have been offside had The Professional Game Officials Limited introduced the same technology Semi-Automated Offside now used in The Champions League that doesn't include the "benefit of the doubt" that English officials tend to give to Man United players:
The Red Devils added a second through Marcus Rashford off Sven Botman and Newcastle didn't manage to truly lay a glove on Man U and score a goal as Erik Ten Hag's men lifted a first trophy under their new manager & the club's 6th League Cup.
Yet there is still so much to play for in Newcastle's season and the distinct possibility of Champions League football next season if The Magpies in 5th place currently on 41 points can overhaul the current 4-point deficit behind current 4th-place occupants Tottenham Hotspur with 45 points with Newcastle possessing a crucial 2 games in hand over the London rivals they beat 2-1 away and still to entertain them at home:
To do so Newcastle must arrest a disappointing run of Premier League form by the new Newcastle's own high standards since domestic football's return after The World Cup with just two wins - Leicester Away & Fulham at home - and five draws - Leeds H, Arsenal A, Crystal Palace A, West Ham H, Bournemouth A - but just a solitary defeat at home to Liverpool, the only team who have beaten Newcastle in the Premier League this season, unfortunately now home & away, & get back on track to the form that saw Eddie Howe's men race into a third place position with 7 wins in 8 before The World Cup.
Easier said than done against a Man City side chasing a fifth Premier League title in six years who are now in second place just two points behind League-leaders Arsenal after an impressive victory at The Emirates stadium which was a timely reminder of their title credentials which are usually based on unstoppable runs at the end of the season:
Yet Newcastle can take courage from the fact that they did manage to stop Man City already this season in a pulsating 3-3 draw at St James' Park back in August when Howe's men went toe-to-toe with The Champions and were even 3-1 up at one point after Kieran Trippier's crashed in a 54th minute free-kick. If anything that superb strike seemed to rouse Guardiola's men who pulled one back then equalised through Erling Haaland & Bernardo Silva but The Magpies will know they can hurt their opponents.
Newcastle's major problem in 2023 has been a lack of goals and an increasingly predictable staleness about the team with The Magpies having more players in their squad who have played more than 2000 minutes this season than any other Premier League team and these are big issues that Howe must address and find a solution for and now seems the time for the Newcastle manager to utilise his squad more and increase rest and rotation especially with the intense high-press game Newcastle play:
After Howe gave his trusted striking lieutenant Callum Wilson a start at Wembley to no avail with the England forward continuing to look not quite himself ever since The World Cup, the greater impact of substitute Alexander Isak, Newcastle's £60M record signing might earn the Sweden international who has been in lively form since his return from injury the starting nod at The Etihad & Wilson a rest with super-sub potential:
Versatile forward Anthony Gordon who was Cup-tied against Man United for Wembley should also be in line for his first start for Newcastle with his fresh legs perhaps best to replace Miguel Almiron on the right-side of attack with the Paraguayan who recently signed a new 3.5 year deal at Newcastle deserving and in need of a rest especially having seen his purple patch of scoring come to an end of late and Gordon will be raring to go and make his mark at The Eithad for his new club:
Allan Saint-Maximin was "unplayable" in the words of Kieran Trippier and Eddie Howe in that 3-3 match at St James' Park as he had in all three Magpies goals so should keep his place in the team to continue a vein of form becoming increasingly rich by the game and Man City right back Kyle Walker will certainly not be looking forward to locking horns with the Frenchman who gave him such a torrid time back in August:
Howe has mentioned previously he likes to keep his defensive unit as consistent as possible so apart from the natural return in goal of no. 1 goalkeeper Nick Pope after his Wembley disappointment for Loris Karius, who didn't let himself or anybody down, its likely Newcastle will name the same back five to repel the Man City threat.
Man City Getting Into Gear At The Business End of The Season
Following some indifferent form by their own exceptionally high standards in the first half of the campaign, Man City are showing why they are Champions of late and seem to have been aroused by the Premier League charges of financial irregularities - a process that is being keenly watched by sports people around the world:
On the pitch, the CityZens have managed to get right back in the title race and are just 5 points behind League leaders Arsenal with 13 games left including a potentially crucial match against The Gunners although they are also fighting on the Champions League and FA Cup fronts so fixture pile-up could become a pressing concern.
After a period isolated on the sidelines perhaps getting a rest of his own following his World Cup travels, Phil Foden was among the goals in The FA Cup on Tuesday night and seems to be back in favour at The Etihad:
Erling Haaland remains Man City's greatest threat after a superb season already scoring 27 goals which is a club record in The Premier League with still 13 games to go but mischievous comments by his agent about Real Madrid remaining very attractive to players will not have gone down well in the blue half of Manchester:
In his presser, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe revealed that his disappointment of losing at Wembley has only served to increase his passion:
and after confirming that midfield star Bruno Guimaraes is fit for the trip to The Etihad after the Brazilian's injury scare, said that Anthony Gordon is finally fit to start and will play a big part for The Magpies from now on and for the rest of the season:
Newcastle caused real problems for Man City's defence at St James' Park so the addition of lightning fast Gordon to the attacking mix will serve as a warning that The Magpies' race is far from run this season & the club are still looking to challenge.
Prediction - Newcastle 4 Man City 2