Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has backed Manchester City to beat Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United 2-0 on Saturday, but the Sky Blues’ full-backs concern the former Arsenal and Celtic striker and could present a weakness the Toon can exploit.
We head into the Saturday afternoon meeting on the back of a 2-0 defeat away to Aston Villa, having won our previous two Premier League matches and beaten Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur earlier in the campaign.
Bruce’s men will have their work cut out trying to ensure we do not suffer back-to-back defeats for the first time since August, though, with Pep Guardiola’s side travelling to Tyneside on the wave of a 2-1 win over Chelsea.
The reigning Premier League champions will also be aiming to take the advantage of playing in the midday kick-off to put some pressure on Liverpool, with the Anfield natives currently eight-points clear of Leicester City at the top of the table.
Nicholas does not expect our encounter with City to be a glamorous affair, but rather 90 minutes of frustration, which ultimately ends with the away side victorious.
“Manchester City are unconvincing, but the same can be said of Liverpool,” Nicholas noted in his weekly predictions for Sky Sports. “At this time of the year, with the fixture congestion and the confusion of injuries, you never know. Ederson is back, which is a big positive for City, although the full-backs are worrying and concerning, as are the centre-backs.
“Newcastle have the togetherness and fighting spirit, and every now and again, they will come in with a good result. Steve Bruce needs to speak to Mike Ashley in January. Everyone dislikes Ashley, but can he help the manager? Bruce needs help, because if they survive under his control, it might be even more valuable. This opens up the option, by the time summer comes, to sell the club.
“You live and hope, but I can only see Man City winning this one [2-0]. I don’t see it being stylish and it will be a day of frustration. But they will pick off Newcastle nevertheless, who will not want to lose by too many. I have nothing but compliments for the way Bruce goes about his business. This one is a free swing, but he knows if they loosen up, they could lose four or five and goal difference could be valuable.”
What will the result be on Saturday?
Kyle Walker and Oleksandr Zinchenko have been Guardiola’s most frequently used full-backs this season, although Angelino started at left-back for the Sky Blues’ defeat to Liverpool and Benjamin Mendy was favoured at home to Chelsea while Joao Cancelo featured at right-back.
Across their appearances on the wings of defence during league games this term, Cancelo ranks first for successful tackles per 90 minutes with 3.0 from 4.5 attempts, while Angelino ranks last with 0.5 from 1.5 attempts, per WhoScored data.
Angelino leads the Citizens for interceptions with 1.5 per 90, as well as for key passes with 2.0, though, while Mendy tops the Sky Blues’ full-backs for successful dribbles with 1.2 per 90 from 1.8 attempts.