Anytime the best attack in the league meets the best defense, it’s a fascinating question of choosing between an unstoppable force and an immovable object. That’s exactly what we’re in store for as Manchester City play host to Newcastle this weekend. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this pivotal Premier League clash.
Manchester City vs. Newcastle Odds
City are significant home favorites with -230 odds, while the visitors are a whopping +550 and the draw is +400. For a goalscoring line of 2.5, the over is favored at -155 while the under is +125.
Manchester City vs. Newcastle Prediction & Pick
Since the World Cup, Newcastle haven’t done much losing- they’ve dropped one match in 8 league appearances, to Liverpool, who curiously have handed them both of their Prem losses. But they’ve also only won two- they’ve become addicted to draws, all of which have been either 0-0 or 1-1. The low-scoring battles are surely a symptom of the confluence of an excellent defense and a decidedly middling attack, who have put several excellent defensive performances to waste. Nevertheless, Newcastle are positioned well to reach the Champions League for the first time in about two decades, as they sit four points behind fourth-place Tottenham, with not one but two games in hand.
City on the other hand are securely within the European places, but as always, have their sights set much higher, on the Premier League trophy itself. That being said, it’s not looking like Guardiola’s men will necessarily win what has become nearly a customary trophy for them; with 13 games to go, they’re five points behind Arsenal as they’ve seemingly matched every Gunners slip up with one of their own, most recently a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest. They’re also struggling a bit in Europe, although that’s less surprising- they’re tied with major underdogs RB Leipzig headed into the second leg. It may be a long shot as they’re still very much alive in three big competitions, but City’s first trophyless season under Pep is looking more and more plausible as time goes on.
Throughout this season, Newcastle are tied for the Prem lead with 11 draws, and with the recent inconsistency of the City attack, it’s hard to be confident enough in them breaking down one of Europe’s best defenses to invest in significant minus-odds. Of course, I don’t much trust Newcastle to light up the scoresheet either, so for my moneyline pick I’m going to go with Draw +400. It’s great value, although I would also consider the Newcastle win/draw double chance which is sitting at or below 2 to 1 odds right now. As for the total, I’m much more emphatically behind u2.5 goals at +125. I haven’t much of a clue how that’s in plus-odds, as it’s rarely gone over that in Newcastle matches, and City are not exactly on fire in terms of goalscoring, especially against top sides.
Man City Attack vs. Newcastle Defense
Newcastle have famously been excellent in defense this season, as they’ve only allowed 15 goals so far, the best figure in the Prem by a good margin as superstar goalkeeper Nick Pope has almost as many clean sheets (12) as goals allowed. Right-back Kieran Trippier has been nothing short of outstanding in both leading the defense and contributing in the attack; he’s truly been one of the best players in the whole Premier League this season. The centre-back pairing of Swiss international Fabian Schär and Dutch newcomer Sven Botman has been tremendous for the Magpies, as the two have become a really formidable unit. Left-back Dan Burn isn’t as much of a star as his counterpart on the right side, but he’s a strong player and rounds out an excellent defense.
City’s attack is centered around Erling Haaland above all else, as he has over three times as many league goals as anyone else on the team. That next-highest scorer would be Phil Foden, although he’s picked up only a single league goal since the World Cup. Haaland has also slowed down a bit from his historic pace; he’s scored in just 4 of 12 matches in all competitions since the New Year, and was completely shut down in the Champions League by Leipzig. Beyond Haaland, it’s really a rotating cast, and the goals can come from just about anyone, from forwards Riyad Mahrez and Julián Álvarez to the versatile Bernardo Silva and midfielder Ilkay Gündogan. This City attack isn’t consistent, but it’s lethal when firing on all cylinders- let’s see what they’ll do against Newcastle.
The Midfield Battle
As much love as City often get for having explosive attacks, make no mistake; Pep’s midfield, averaging 64.4% possession this year, is always the cornerstone when he’s having success. That midfield is anchored by perhaps the two best players in the World at their given role, the first of which is Rodri, the superstar Spanish defensive midfielder who is seemingly incapable of having a rough outing. The other is of course the incomparable Kevin de Bruyne, whose is well on the way to another season of 20+ assists. De Bruyne was absolutely inexplicably benched all game against Leipzig, and the team visibly missed him- surely Pep won’t make that mistake in another big match. Other contributors such as Silva, Gündogan, and even Foden could see the pitch as a part of this well-rounded unit.
Midfielder Bruno Guimaraes has put together a real breakout season in his first full season for Newcastle, and has been one of the team’s best players up and down the whole pitch; he’s dealt with some knocks, and when he’s been off the pitch it’s been really noticeable. He’s often joined by fellow Brazilian Joelinton, who is having a nice year as well, and Englishman Sean Longstaff. This group doesn’t have the star power of Man City, and they don’t have the results either- their possession average is closer to 50%, and created just over 60% as many chances as City, but they play well together and will need a strong performance to earn points on Saturday.