Manchester City take on Newcastle in the Premier League in today’s late kick-off looking to get back to winning ways.
The Citizens were held 1-1 by Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend. And last season, Man City had to force their way through a siege at St James’ Park last season, winning thanks to a single Raheem Sterling strike in the first half.
Rafa Benitez was widely criticised for his tactics, but his team did a good job at stifling a Pep Guardiola side that had been scoring for fun and almost grabbed an equaliser. The Newcastle manager is under fire again after setting up his team in ultra defensive fashion against Chelsea at the weekend, where again they nearly took a point off a much better team but ultimately did not.
Benitez was not moved by the storm his tactics created in the TV studios as pundits gave their views on the performance against Chelsea, and it sounds as though his players are gearing themselves up for a similar performance when they head to the Etihad this weekend.
“It’s going to be another difficult game against a great team (against Manchester City). It could be more or less the same sort of game and approach,” said central defender Fabian Schar .
“We will have to defend well. If we do it like we did against Chelsea, then we will have an opportunity to get something there. “It’s going to be a very tough game though.”
The man with the whistle for the tactical battle between Pep Guardiola and Rafa Benitez will be 47-year-old Kevin Friend of Leicestershire. Friend did not take charge of a single Premier League game involving the eventual champions last season, but was in charge of the Carabao Cup tie with Wolves in October, which the Blues won on penalties after extra time.