Preview: Newcastle v Manchester City

Manchester City

Newcastle will have their work cut out to claim a second consecutive Premier League win when they host unbeaten leaders Manchester City on Wednesday.

Premier League
27 December 2017
Gameweek 20
Kick-off: 21H45 (GMT+2)
Venue: St. James' Park
Referee: A. Marriner
Assistants: S. Ledger, R. West
Fourth official: N. Swarbrick

Head-to-head summary: 

Newcastle 138 52 33 53 
Manchester City 138 53 33 52 

Previous encounter: 

Newcastle 1-1 Manchester City 19/04/16 (Premier League)

Newcastle goalscorers: V. Anita (31')
Manchester City goalscorers: S. Aguero (14')

Players to watch: 

The Magpies have been short on goals this season, with Joselu and Dwight Gayle their main attacking threats with three goals apiece thus far. They will be hoping the pair can fire in front of their home support.

Sergio Aguero has been a thorn in their side in recent years. The Argentine comes into the clash on the back of a brace against Bournemouth and he has scored in each of his last five games against the Tynesiders.

Team form and manager quotes: 

Newcastle brought an end to their dry spell in the league by beating West Ham 3-2 at the London Stadium on Saturday. Henri Saivet, Mohamed Diame, and Christian Atsu got on the scoresheet to clinch three valuable points for the visitors.

Prior to the victory, Rafa Benitez's side went nine games without a win, losing eight. The poor run saw them dip into the bottom three, but the three points against the Irons lifted them up to 15th.

The Toon were missing Mikel Merino, Isaac Hayden, and Florian Lejeune against West Ham, but Benitez has revealed that two of them are expected to return against City.

"I think that Merino and Hayden will have a chance for Man City, because it was little problems, so they weren't fully fit for West Ham," the Spaniard was quoted as saying by the Shields Gazette.

Meanwhile, City's unbelievable winning streak showed no signs of slowing down on Saturday as they stormed to a 4-0 victory over Bournemouth at the Etihad Stadium. Aguero netted a brace for the hosts, while Raheem Sterling and Danilo also found the back of the net.

Pep Guardiola's troops have opened up a 13-point lead over second-placed Manchester United in the league after winning 17 consecutive games. They also have not lost against Newcastle in their last 19 league encounters, winning 16.

"Newcastle won against West Ham when West Ham were in a good moment in terms of results," Guardiola told the press ahead of the game. 

"They have to focus on Newcastle, focus on what they have to do on the pitch- offensively, defensively, individually, like a group. That is the only way to be focused in what we have to do. Forget about the table, the schedule, and focus on what we have to do, that is the best way."

Team news: 

The hosts could have Merino and Hayden back in action, but they are unlikely to be able to call upon Florian Lejeune.

City have influential centre-back Vincent Kompany back in the fray after recovering from injury, but playmaker Kevin de Bruyne is a doubt due to illness.