After several years of frugality, club owner Mike Ashley loosened the pierce strings this summer and invested in several new players. Rémy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere, Siem de Jong, Daryl Janmaat, Ayoze Perez, Jack Colback, Facundo Ferreyra have joined the club. And more could follow.
But what remains to be seen is whether these additions will strengthen the club. Or whether these signings simply compensate for the loss of Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Debuchy and Loïc Rémy. The Magpies were good and bad in equal measure last year. And the pressure is on Alan Pardew to improve on last season’s tenth-place finish.
Injuries and Suspensions
Injuries continue to be a major concern for Newcastle. Davide Santon will not be available for Sunday’s match because of a knee injury. He is expected back sometime in September. Papiss Cissé is also expected to be out longer with an injured kneecap.
Cheikh Tioté is battling a hamstring problem and could miss Sunday’s match as well. While Siem de Jong is still a major doubt, after injuring his calf during Newcastle’s summer tour in New Zealand. And Paul Dummitt will also serve the first match of a three-match suspension for a straight red in last season’s final match against Liverpool.
Manuel Pellegrini’s club is relatively healthy to start the new campaign. However, Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo is expected to be out several weeks with a broken foot. Sergio Agüero was noticeably absent from Manchester City’s Community Shield match against Arsenal this week. Doubts remain as to whether the Argentine is fit enough to play.
It is always a dubious task to try and predict the starting line-up for the first match of the season. But based on last season, it is almost certain that Alan Pardew will use either a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Tim Krul, Cheikh Tioté, Fabricio Coloccini and Moussa Sissoko are all expected to be regular starters again this year. The second starting centre-back position is expected to be a tussle between Steven Taylor and Mike Williamson.
Massadio Haïdara is expected to play left-back on Sunday, due the absence of both Davide Santon and Paul Dummitt. New signing Daryl Janmaat should start at right-back this season. Emmanuel Rivière, Rémy Cabella, and Siem de Jong are expected to be starters as well. While, the final positions in the starting XI will likely come down to Yoan Gouffran, Vurnon Anita and Jack Colback. But for Sunday’s match, Tioté and de Jong could be unavailable due to injury.
Manchester City are coming off a surprising 3-0 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday in the Community Shield match. Pellegrini fielded a relatively strong squad in a 4-2-3-1 formation. But the City manager is also known for using the 4-4-2 formation. With Negredo out and Agüero not completely fit, it is likely that Pellegrini will begin the match with one pure striker.
Manchester City’s owners are never shy about spending money. And as a result, there will be several new faces in the squad on Sunday. Some are very familiar to Premier League fans. Bacary Sagna has made the move from Arsenal. While Frank Lampard has joined the club on loan from MLS. Central defender Eliaquim Mangala and defensive midfielder Fernando Reges have arrived in big money deals from FC Porto.
These two clubs played one another in the opening match of the season last year, with Manchester City defeating Newcastle United 4-0 at Etihad Stadium. The Citizens won all three meetings against Newcastle last season, which included a 2-0 win in the League Cup. Newcastle has not beaten Manchester City in 16 contests. The Magpies last beat City in September 2005.
But there is a renewed sense of optimism at Tyneside. The club made some quality signings. And the crisis that plagued them for much of last season appears to have dissipated, at least for now. Many of Newcastle’s new signings will be making their debut on Sunday. And they should be extra motivated to make a good impression on their new manager as well as their new fan base.
Newcastle United plays the defending Premier League champions to a draw at St.James’ Park.
Newcastle United 2 – 2 Manchester City