Man City's Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo has notched 18 goals in all competitions so far. His latest was three goals scored in the English League Cup semi-final first leg match against West Ham in midweek. - AFP
NEWCASTLE United face a difficult test at home when they entertain Manchester City in the English Premier League tomorrow.
After a decent run saw them climb to sixth in the standings, the Magpies have faltered of late, having slipped to eighth on the log and were knocked out of the FA Cup last weekend.
That sorry state of affairs does not augur well for Alan Pardew and his squad, who will be coming up against a team boasting the best form in the Premiership and Cup competitions.
Indeed, as much as the red half of Manchester hate to believe it, City are in with a real chance of winning the Premiership, cannot be counted out of the Champions League despite a fixture with Barcelona looming, are still in the FA Cup and thumped West Ham 6-0 on Wednesday in the first leg of the English League Cup semi-final.
But the thing that provokes great discussion at the moment is the fashion in which City are playing. They might be second in the standings, but are odds-on favourites to land the coveted league crown – the trophy that Liverpool’s Bill Shankly once famously said was the “bread and butter” of the English game.
Just a point separates City from top spot and they could move into pole position with a win at St James Park tomorrow, if only because Arsenal are due to travel to Aston Villa on Monday.
For neutrals of the game, City have become the team of choice and much of this has been down to their swashbuckling, free-scoring approach.
No single player stands out at the Etihad when it comes to scoring, although the injured Sergio Aguero does appear to be at level slightly higher than the rest.
However, having said that, Alvaro Negredo took his season’s count to 18 with the hat-trick against the Hammers.
Meanwhile, the influential and irresistible Yaya Toure has done well enough on his own from midfield with a tally of 10 in the league alone.
Newcastle’s main concern should be to stem the tide of the advancing front-six of City and maybe consider counter-attacking when the opportunity does arise – if it arises.
There is no greater threat to the opposition’s goal area in the Premiership, or Europe for that matter, than City in full flow.
Manuel Pellegrini, despite his “cool blue” demeanour, has emerged as a brilliant replacement to Roberto Mancini.
He is an ideal candidate to bid for a second league title in three years and a good bet for Manager of the Year.
Despite their shaky early season away form and having had all sorts of jibes made about their travels, City should win again tomorrow, which would make it 15 victories from 20 in the Premiership and be adequate to assume the top spot.
Perhaps, the only thing not quite settled yet is the scoreline, but one would have to say that City will score three, four or even more in this one, too.
Shaun Orange thinks City will beat Newcastle and heap more pressure on Toon boss Alan Pardew, even if it is not another 6-0 scoreline.