City made it 17 triumphs in a row at the weekend, thrashing Bournemouth 4-0 thanks to Sergio Aguero’s brace and goals from Raheem Sterling and Danilo. Championship challengers Manchester United and Chelsea were both held to draws on Saturday, which leaves City 14 points clear at the summit of the standings at the time of writing; Pep Guardiola will not allow his players to get complacent, but even Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte will accept that the Premier League title is headed to the Etihad Stadium this season. It is still a little too early to proclaim this City outfit as the best English football has seen in the last 25 years, but it is fair to say that no other side has been quite as dominant in the first half of the campaign.
Newcastle ended a run of nine matches without a win by beating West Ham United 3-2 last time out. It was a much-needed victory for the Magpies, who climbed out of the bottom three and now have cause for optimism ahead of a transfer window in which they will hope to have funds available to spend under new ownership. This is the last game Rafael Benitez would have wanted after his team finally secured another victory, though, with City simply too strong for the rest of the division right now.
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Guardiola will have to cope without the services of Benjamin Mendy (knee), John Stones (hamstring) and youngster Phil Foden, who sustained an ankle injury last week. The City boss may opt to shuffle his pack a little with an eye on upcoming games against Crystal Palace and Watford, with Bernardo Silva, Danilo, Eliaquim Mangala, Ilkay Gundogan, Yaya Toure and Gabriel Jesus among those players who will be hoping for an opportunity from the start. City will play their usual game of dominating possession, defending with a high line and pressing from the front, but they may have to be patient against opponents who are likely to pack men behind the line of the ball in a bid to make life as difficult as possible for the champions-elect.
Newcastle will be unable to call upon Jesus Gamez (ankle) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (back), but Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden should both be available again after knocks. Benitez will not want to tinker with his team too much after the weekend’s win in the capital, with the former Liverpool manager also likely to keep faith with the 4-4-2 formation he employed last time out. Dwight Gayle and Joselu will resume their partnership up front, while Ciaran Clark looks set to continue alongside club captain Jamaal Lascelles in the heart of the backline. Jonjo Shelvey is eligible again after serving a suspension, but he will probably have to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench.
Newcastle will have been buoyed by their recent victory over West Ham, but that will probably not be enough to prevent City from making it 18 wins in a row in the top flight. An away victory to nil is one wager worth considering in this one, while Sterling – who has 12 Premier League goals to his name already in 2017/18 – looks like a sensible selection to find the back of the net anytime.