After ending 2023 with three consecutive defeats and then losing their opening game of the New Year 4-2 away against Liverpool, Newcastle eased the pressure beginning to mount on manager Eddie Howe by claiming a much-needed 3-0 away victory over Tyne-Wear rivals Sunderland in the FA Cup third round last weekend.
Howe was rewarded for naming a strong starting lineup, albeit somewhat forced upon him amid the club’s injury crisis, as an Alexander Isak brace followed a first-half own goal from Dan Ballard to help the Magpies claim the bragging rights over the Black Cats for the first time since 2011.
Newcastle will travel to Fulham in the fourth round later this month, but they must first shift their attention to Saturday’s contest with Man City, a side whom they beat 1-0 in their most recent meeting four months ago in the EFL Cup courtesy of a second-half strike from Isak.
The Magpies’ record against the Citizens in the Premier League leaves little to be desired, though, as they have only won one, drawn five and lost 26 of their last 32 top-flight encounters – their only triumph during this run being a 2-1 home win in January 2019.
Defeat on Saturday would represent Newcastle’s 10th of the campaign in the top flight, twice as many as they recorded in the entirety of last season, and they could slip 14 points behind the top four if other results go against them, severely hindering their hopes of securing Champions League football for next season.
FA Cup holders Man City also secured a safe passage through to the fourth round after thrashing Championship outfit Huddersfield Town 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium last weekend, extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches.
Kevin De Bruyne stole the headlines after making his long-awaited return from injury, with the playmaker coming off the substitutes’ bench to set up fellow returnee Jeremy Doku for City’s fifth goal after a brace from Phil Foden, a strike from Julian Alvarez and an own goal from Ben Jackson had put the game to bed.
Before preparing for a tricky trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the fourth round later this month, Pep Guardiola’s side are tasked with claiming maximum points in front of a fired-up St James’ Park faithful this weekend as they endeavour to close the five-point gap that currently separates them from Premier League leaders Liverpool, who have played a game more.
Following a challenging period towards the end of 2023, world champions Man City have since turned their fortunes around in impressive fashion in recent weeks, winning each of their last five games in all competitions by an aggregate score of 17-1.
The Citizens will be confident of further success on Saturday as they have won more matches (30), scored more goals (98) and kept more clean sheets (22) against Newcastle than they have versus any other opponent in their Premier League history