Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of Manchester City for the first time in a competitive fixture. Picture: Daniel Tejedor/AP
After seeing the English Premier League trophy head across town to the silverware cupboard of bitter rival Manchester United, Manchester City fans will be desperate for their big spending club to return the favour in the 2013/14 season. The Sky Blues start off with a tricky encounter against Newcastle United ; a team which finished fifth in the EPL just a season back, but a quarter-final appearance in the Europa League and the subsequent pressure that put on the squad almost led to the Magpies being relegated last campaign.
The appointment of Manuel Pellegrini over the summer has created plenty of excitement at City after an up and down campaign last year. The Chilean worked wonders with unfancied Spanish sides Villareal and Malaga, and in his one season at the helm of Real Madrid the team amassed what was then a club record 96 premiership points, only to see Barcelona eclipse that mark to win the title by three points.
City had the best defence in the competition last season and kept the opposition scoreless on 18 occasions, but those clean sheets didn’t always translate in to points due to the odd difficulty at the other end of the ground. David Villa wasn’t as potent in his second season in Manchester, but he should be able to build new partnerships with transfer signings Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo. A fully fit Sergio Aguero this season should also help matters.
Much like the last off-season, Newcastle has been suspiciously quiet in the transfer market. Loic Remy arrived from QPR on loan during the summer, but there was little else to report. His arrival has added to the ‘French Revolution’ Tyneside, and given the number of players from across the Channel you have to wonder why the Geordies don’t just abandon the black and white stripes and play in the tricolours of France. Remy won’t have a chance to impress the Toon Army for the first few weeks of the season, though, due to a calf injury.
The Citizens have been dominant in this match-up in recent years. They’ve won 11 of the last 13 encounters with the other two clashes ending in a draw . City won this corresponding home match 4-0 last season and also took the points away from home earlier in the season with a 3-1 win.
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