There is one match in the Premier League on Friday night as the final weekend without fans in stadiums gets underway with the champions in action when Manchester City head to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle United.
A couple of weeks ago it looked like both teams might be playing for something here but Newcastle have secured their survival for another season and City have won the title so in essence this is a dead rubber from a competitive standpoint.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and the Sky Sports Premier League channels. The build up show begins at 7.30pm with the kick off coming at 8pm.
It looked for a large part of this season that Newcastle United could be in danger of heading through the trap door back into the Championship. They take on Fulham in the final game of the season and that match was beginning to look very important, however three wins in their last five matches have seen Newcastle pull away from danger and the Magpies will definitely be in the Premier League next term, which really was probably all they could have asked from this campaign.
Keeping players fit has been an issue this season. When they have had key players fit they have generally looked an ok side, as we have seen in the last month or so, but when those men are missing they can look very ordinary indeed. The key moving forward will be to manage the key players and bring in a little more depth so that the difference between their best and worst form is a little closer than it is at present.
Despite losing to Chelsea last weekend, Manchester City were crowned champions in the week when Manchester United were beaten by Leicester City and now they will be out to give a champions performance. Although the title is won, the season isn’t over for City as they still have a Champions League final at the end of the month, where their recent nemesis Chelsea will be waiting for them so they will be looking to keep up momentum to take to Portugal with them.
Although they can play without any pressure with the title being won, you get the impression that Pep Guardiola will not allow his side to just meander through the remaining games and often when champion sides are beaten they come back with a huge performance as a sort of backlash. That is something City will be looking to deliver here ahead of their last two Premier League matches and then that huge Champions League finale.
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The big team news for Newcastle United is that Callum Wilson has gone down injured again and he will miss the remainder of the campaign. He joins the likes of Ryan Fraser and Jamaal Lascelles on the sidelines while Fabian Schar remains suspended.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola could choose to change up his starting XI in a bid to keep everyone fresh but the Champions League final is a couple of weeks away yet so that might not be the case. John Stones is available again after serving his ban.
Newcastle United fans will not need me to remind them that they haven’t beaten a top six side this season, nor will they need me to point out that they haven’t won a game in which Callum Wilson hasn’t played. Bad news. Manchester City are a top six side and Wilson is out injured. Unlike a lot of those previous matches Newcastle can play with a bit of freedom here but I’m still far from convinced they are good enough to cause City a problem here.
The big question really is how Manchester City will fare at breaking down what I expect to be a deep Newcastle side but even then they are missing a couple of key centre-backs which isn’t going to be ideal to that situation. That leaves me thinking how we can best get some value out of a City win and I’ve come to the decision that the best way is to back City to win to nil. Newcastle still have Allan Saint-Maximin but City have enough pace defensively to keep him quiet and if they do that they should win this without their goal being breached.
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