When the two remaining unbeaten clubs in the Premier League meet on Saturday, many will be expecting only one outcome. After City’s incredible early season form, which has seen them brush aside the likes of Spurs, Aston Villa and, famously, Manchester United, it would be perhaps fair to envisage only a win for the League leaders. What stands in their way however is a Newcastle side high on confidence. Without a league defeat since May 1, Newcastle have without a doubt surprised many, but even the most ardent Newcastle fan would surely be foolish to expect anything other than a defeat at the Etihad. Well, perhaps. Perhaps we might lose our unbeaten run, but then again, perhaps City will get a shock.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News on Tuesday, ex Newcastle and City footballer Antoine Sibierski believes City should not take Newcastle lightly.
“People say Newcastle are the shock team but I knew they would do well – they have so many French players… you can’t underestimate Newcastle – they are on a good run and have great team spirit, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they got a result.”
It’s clear from this that he thinks Newcastle will put up a good fight, something which perhaps the rest of the media disagree with. With Paddy Power, Newcastle are 9/1 to win, odds which you would normally associate with a top versus bottom clash, not first versus third. BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson will, no doubt, predict Newcastle to get beat by 3 or 4 in his weekly predictions, but whilst those who know best may have us on a hiding to nothing, things might not be so clear cut. When the two sides meet on Saturday, it will be the league’s top scorers against the league’s meanest defence, so to predict Newcastle to ship 3 or 4 may be forgetting that Newcastle appear to be a changed team. Last year, perhaps it would be acceptable to expect a mauling at the hands of one of the big four, but that was the Newcastle of old. Having only conceded 8 goals in the league this season, and with only 3 or those coming away from home, it surely is not inconceivable that Newcastle could go to Manchester and frustrate City.
There is a high chance that Newcastle will go there and get beat, but I still feel that we have a better chance than many might suggest. I read something the other day about our position. We are now well over a quarter of the way through the season, and we currently sit in third, one point behind Manchester United, and six behind City, yet we are still 250/1 to win the league. If it was Liverpool in our position, would they be considered title contenders? The answer for me would be yes, so why aren’t we? I’m not saying we are going to win the title- I don’t think we will be anywhere near- but at this moment in time, still unbeaten and sitting in third, we surely should be taken seriously. Our run was tipped to end at the hands of Spurs, and then again at the Britannia, but so far, it’s still going and there’s no reason why it should end this weekend.
Come Saturday evening, it is probable that there will only be one team left in the league left unbeaten, and whilst most would suggest that Lineker and company will be drooling over multiple goals from the likes of Aguero and Dzeko, it’s not all that unlikely that they could be sat there starting to take Newcastle a little bit more seriously.