The Premier League Champions are back in action - Newcastle United vs Manchester City Preview
Manchester City return to action for the first time since becoming Premier League Champions once again, against Newcastle United at St James' Park. Manchester United's defeat to Leicester City at Old Trafford ensured the red side of Manchester were the ones to hand the Sky Blues the Premier League title for the second time in just four years.
City were finally crowned champions on Tuesday night.
Make no mistake about it, City won the league all by themselves, but the Red Devils being the team to put the ribbons on the trophy, makes it all that much sweeter.
Players such as Rodri, Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres have all won their first Premier League title. Whereas on the other side of the spectrum, Sergio Aguero will collect his fifth Premier League winners medal at the end of the season, the most of any non-European player ever.
Referee: Kevin Friend
Assistants: Simon Beck, Adrian Holmes
Fourth official: Lee Mason
VAR: Darren England
Assistant VAR: Harry Lennard
City begin their lap of honour by travelling to the North East to face Newcastle for the Friday night kick-off (20:00 BST), after having an unheard-of six days rest. This is the first time City will have only played just the two games in the space of a week since Christmas when they had the Covid outbreak. Before then it wasn't until October since they last had a full weeks rest.
Newcastle currently sit 16th and have already confirmed their place in the Premier League next season, but as they're only two points off 13th placed Crystal Palace, they may still be interested in finishing as high as they possibly can.
City go into this game having received a lot of praise this week, especially on Monday Night Football from United and Liverpool legends, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.
Both of Sky Sports' pundits opted for the Citizens to produce a clean sweep of the individual awards as they voted for Pep Guardiola as their manager of the year, Dias as their player of the year and Phil Foden as their young player of the year.
Phil Foden and Ruben Dias have been key to Manchester City this season.
The Portuguese centre half is William Hill's favourite to pick up the PFA POTY award, at odds of 4/6, Bruno Fernandes is the bookies' closest competition for the award at 13/8.
City's recent record against Friday's opposition is near immaculate, they have only lost once in their past 12 meetings with the Magpies. Which was a memorable loss, 2-1 in the 18/19 season, which sparked a 14 game win streak afterwards for the eventual Premier League champions.
Despite the recent successes against the Eastern side, Newcastle do slightly notch the history books. City have been victorious on 71 occasions, which is just one less than their opponents have over them, 72, something Guardiola and co. will be hoping to fix. Both sides have shared an equal portion of the spoils 40 times.
With Aguero's departure edging closer and closer, it's safe to say he will be starting every Premier League game for the rest of the season, which the majority of City fans will not want to end for that exact reason.
However, the question remains, what kind of lineup will Guardiola put out, because he obviously doesn't want to risk any of his star players getting injured, but at the same time, you don't want them to lose their rhythm and have them all starting together in the Champions League final for the first time in a month.
It is key the Spaniard finds the perfect balance for the remainder of the domestic campaign. He needs to keep his main players protected, while also still ensuring they get enough minutes under their belt so they aren't potentially rusty.
Cancelo, Stones, Laporte, Ake;
Fernandinho, Gundogan, Bernardo;
Torres, Aguero; Sterling
Score prediction: 4-0 - Gundogan, Aguero, Laporte & Torres