Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini looks on during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On Third Round Replay match between Manchester City and Leicester City at the City of Manchester Stadium in Manchester England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Manchester City faces a tough Newcastle side in a match that could decide their title hopes.
You're going to read and hear a great number of cliches connected to this vastly important match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at the Sports Direct Arena. You may not like them, you may think people are overselling the importance of this match, but they're not. This is big and here's why.
City are in first place atop the Premier League, forty-four years removed from their last league title in the English top flight. The only thing standing between them and lifting the trophy are two matches and their own will to win. If City win out, they win the league (assuming Manchester United don't find a way to overtake City's goal differenceadvantage, which is at eight) and their long suffering fan base can finally celebrate a Premier league title.
Newcastle are in fifth place, tied on points with Tottenham but way, way behind on goal differential. If the Magpies want to make an appearance in the Champions League just two years after being relegated, they need to win out and hope Spurs slip up.
Basically, this is a BIG match. Even if you don't like either team involved, I'm going to go ahead and declare this two hours of must see television this weekend.
One could argue that this match against Newcastle will be far more difficult for City than their 1-0 triumph over United on Monday. Alan Pardew will not be sending out a suspect defensive lineup, so how City defends against the dynamic stylings of Papiss Cissé, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa will be massively important. Not to mention the crushing weight of hope and expectations that are on these players. Many felt City grew up with their win over United, a win over Newcastle (and make not mistake, they need to win) would really show that this team is ready to put on their big boy pants.
Roberto Mancini will likely feature an unchanged 4-2-3-1 formation with the only real concern being the health of Joe Hart's foot. As of Thursday he hadn't trained with the first team, but he's still expected to be in goal and short of his foot falling off, I'd be shocked if he wasn't ready to go.
Pardew has a couple injury concerns in the back with fullback Danny Simpson (ankle) and Cheick Tioté (head) listed as doubtful ahead of the match. James Perch started in place of Simpson in the midweek so he's likely to get the start again.
Newcastle United vs. Manchester City
Match Date/Time: Sunday, May 6, 8:30 p.m. ET/8:00 p.m. local
Venue: Sports Direct Arena, Newcastle, England
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (U.S. - English), FOX Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sky Sports 1 (U.K.), Sportsnet regional (Canada)