How CaughtOffside thinks Manchester City will line up against Newcastle…
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Manchester City start the defence of their Premier League title against a rejuvenated Newcastle United today, with Manuel Pellegrini’s side looking to get off to the best possible start.
Newcastle are unbeaten in their last nine opening home games, but their stats against City counter that one with interest. The champions have won the last 10 meetings of the clubs and haven’t been beaten by the Magpies in 16 – since September 2005.
They are naturally favourites to win again this time too, despite a somewhat patchy pre-season that continued through last weekend’s Community Shield defeat to Arsenal, and Pellegrini’s admission that his side wasn’t yet ready to get going.
Here’s how we think City will line-up:
GK) Joe Hart
The England number one faces a huge battle to beat new signing Willy Caballero to the starting role, but after his impressive performances towards the end of last season, he should be handed the first chance.
RB) Pablo Zabaleta
The Argentine full-back is likely to get the nod over former Arsenal man Bacary Sagna, although neither player got much of a pre-season campaign.
LB) Aleksandar Kolarov
Neither Kolarov nor rival left-back Gael Clichy went to the World Cup this summer, so both are fully fit, but it’s the Serbian who could be preferred on this occasion.
CB) Vincent Kompany
The first name on the team-sheet, Manchester City’s captain may not have played much in pre-season, but he’ll still be ready to go.
CB) Matija Nastasic
With new signing Eliaquim Mangala well short of match fitness, and with World Cup finalist Martin Demichelis having only returned to training at the start of the week, Nastasic is the only viable option to partner Kompany.