Premier League

Manchester City-Newcastle United Preview

Pep Guardiola knows complacency cannot kick in as Manchester City head into a hectic festive schedule.

City face Newcastle United, who have surpassed them as the wealthiest club in the Premier League following the Saudi Arabia-backed takeover, on Sunday in one of the few matches set to go ahead this weekend following a raft of COVID-19-enforced postponements.

Guardiola, who had to cancel his pre-match news conference following an inconclusive coronavirus test result, but who has since tested negative, will see his team sit top of the table at Christmas with a win over Eddie Howe's side.

With almost a full squad to choose from, Guardiola believes a loss of focus is the main concern for City.

He told City's website: "What is most important is the next game. And the next one and the next one.

"We try not to look to much behind us because when you do that, you lose your focus. It is important not to look at our last result and think 'we are there.'

"We are playing well and getting results we want, but we have to continue this."

Howe, meanwhile, was asked if he thinks the Premier League will continue, with the pressure for a 'circuit breaker' amid rising COVID-19 cases growing.

"I think it's on a knife-edge. When you start losing players the worry for me is the competition becomes slightly unfair," he said.

"I don't think anybody wants to see that, people want to see a fair contest. They don't want to see disparity in games.

"I know we all want the product to continue - I am desperate for it to continue. I do think the welfare of the players has to come first and the supporters. I know that the people in charge of the Premier League will do that."

Newcastle United - Martin Dubrakva

If lowly Newcastle are to get anything out of Sunday's game, their goalkeeper is probably going to be crucial. Martin Dubravka will have to be at his best to keep City's attack at bay.

Manchester City - Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez has scored 49 goals in 164 games for Manchester City in all competitions, with only Sergio Aguero (61), Gabriel Jesus (63) and Raheem Sterling (76) netting more for the Citizens since he joined the club in 2018.

- Newcastle have won just one of their last 27 Premier League games against City (D4 L22), winning 2-1 at St James' Park in January 2019.

- City have lost just one of their last 13 away league games against Newcastle (W9 D3). However, they've conceded seven goals across their last three visits to St James' Park, more than they had in their previous 11 combined (6).

- Against no side have City netted more Premier League hat-tricks than they have against Newcastle (3), with Ferran Torres scoring a treble in this exact fixture last season.

- Newcastle boss Howe has lost all 10 of his Premier League games against Manchester City - the worst 100% losing record any manager has against a specific opponent in the competition's history.

- Newcastle are unbeaten in their last five home league games against reigning top-flight champions, winning two and drawing three. They last had a longer such run between October 1987 and October 1996, a six-game run of which the final game was a 5-0 victory against Manchester United.

Updated December 18, 2021