Chris Sutton insisted Newcastle United will emerge empty-handed from Saturday’s visit to Manchester City and believes Eddie Howe’s side are ‘flagging a little bit’.
The Magpies will hope to shake off the impact of last weekend’s Carabao Cup Final defeat against Manchester United and give a boost to their hopes of securing European football for the first time in a decade with a rare win at the Etihad Stadium.
United’s record at the home of the reigning Premier League champions makes for grim reading and they have lost all but one of their eighteen league and cup game as the stadium since 2003. Their recent form at the Etihad gives further backing to Sutton’s claims with United conceding 28 goals in their last seven away games against City and scoring just three during that time.
But it’s the Magpies current form that is causing some slight concern after Howe’s side claimed just two wins in their last seven league games and have scored twice on just one occasion over that period.
Writing in his BBC Sport predictions column, former Premier League winner Sutton said said: “I wouldn’t quite go as far a saying Newcastle are running out of steam, but they are flagging a little bit. They weren’t outplayed by Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final, but I thought Erik ten Hag’s side won pretty comfortably.
“I do like the way Magpies boss Eddie Howe sets his team up and they will be awkward opposition at Etihad Stadium, especially with Nick Pope back in goal, but I still think Manchester City will win.”
Sutton also pointed to Phil Foden’s return to form as a key reason why the reigning Premier League champions will boost their hopes of retaining their title with a win over United.
The England star had struggled for form after returning from the World Cup Finals in December but he grabbed a goal and assist in last weekend’s 4-1 win at Bournemouth before scoring twice in an FA Cup fifth round win at Championship club Bristol City in midweek.
“City have to win, really,” explained the former Celtic striker.
“The pressure is on them now, especially after Arsenal’s victory in midweek, and the champions are getting to the stage where they know they can’t slip up. It’s definitely a boost for Pep Guardiola’s side that Phil Foden is back in the team and playing so well.
“For whatever reason, he wasn’t the only City player who hadn’t really kicked on since the World Cup and if they are going to push Arsenal, they need to be at their best. Foden coming back, and being at such a high level is really good news for them.”