Newcastle host Manchester City in the early kick-off on Saturday as the Magpies look to open up a healthy lead over those in the relegation zone.
Steve Bruce’s men are five points above 18th-place Norwich City as we enter round 14 of the 2019/20 Premier League. The Sky Blues, meanwhile, trail table-topping Liverpool by nine, despite coming from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in their last outing.
Sergio Aguero is absent for City after hobbling off during the victory over the Blues, and the Argentine is due to miss the club’s next three fixtures, including the Manchester derby on 7 December.
Here’s seven key stats and facts to know ahead of their clash with Newcastle at St James’ Park.
A Delayed Double
You have to go back to November 2003 for the last time the Magpies beat City in back-to-back fixtures, with Saturday’s encounter offering Newcastle a chance to end that torrid run.
Salomon Rondon and Matt Ritchie were the men to turn things around at St James’ last winter as the pair struck a devastating blow to the Sky Blues’ title hopes.
The South American has since left Tyneside and his counterpart has been a bit-part player under Bruce, meaning Newcastle must find new heroes if they’re too get the monkey off their back.
City Set to Equal Club Record
City have found the back of the net in each of their last 21 games versus the Magpies. Only against Fulham have they put together a better streak in the Premier League, the Mancunians scoring in 22 consecutive matches with the Cottagers.
Despite that record, Pep Guardiola’s recruits have netted only one goal in each of their last three fixtures at St James’.
With Liverpool showing no sign of letting up, the Citizens simply must improve on their recent performances at Newcastle. If they don’t, they may as well kiss goodbye to a third straight English crown.
St James’ Fortress
Standing in the way of Raheem Sterling and co. is a fierce backline, which has provided a strong foundation for Newcastle this year.
Aside from Leicester City, the Magpies have conceded the fewest number of home goals in the top flight. The Foxes have shipped a mere three goals at the King Power Stadium in 2019/20, whereas the St James’ faithful have watched their side come unstuck on four occasions.
Captain and centre back Jamaal Lascelles has been hugely influential in that regard, but the 26-year-old has been ruled out for up to three months following an injury picked up in the win over Bournemouth.
It’s been four Premier League matches since Guardiola’s side didn’t concede the first goal of the game, with Southampton, Liverpool and Chelsea each opening the scoring in their meetings with City.
The Sky Blues showed their powers of recovery in two of those clashes, ultimately downing both the Saints and the Blues at the Etihad Stadium.
Of course, they were backed by the home crowd then. It couldn’t be more different on Saturday as they prepare to battle a resolute Newcastle and the raucous Toon Army standing behind them.
All Gone Wrong for Almiron
Mike Ashley’s decision to fork out £21m for Paraguayan forward Miguel Almiron looked to be a turning point in the club’s history as the Magpies owner finally gave one of his coaches some money to play with.
However, Ashley has since resumed his role as public enemy number one in Newcastle, while Almiron is yet to show he’s worth the record transfer fee.
He’s had more shots without scoring than any other Premier League player this campaign, the former MLS star failing to convert any of his 22 attempts in the early stages of 2019/20.
City are vulnerable this season, injuries ravaging their squad and depriving Guardiola of some of his most important players.
However, that doesn’t excuse the defensive deficiencies that have hampered their title charge, with the Sky Blues facing a shot on target every 24 minutes.
That’s their worst ratio since the 2010/11 campaign, back when City had never won a Premier League trophy and were still to make their Champions League debut.
It’s not a crisis, but there is growing concern at the Etihad.
🚨 TEAM NEWS
This is how we line-up for #NEWMCI at St. James’ Park this afternoon. #NUFCpic.twitter.com/fOeP9ogEzp
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) November 30, 2019
Your City line-up today! 🙌
Ederson, Walker, Stones, Fernandinho, Mendy, Gundogan, Silva (C), Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling, Jesus
Subs | Bravo, Angelino, Rodrigo, Bernardo, Cancelo, Otamendi, Foden
— Manchester City (@ManCity) November 30, 2019