Manchester City-Newcastle United Preview
LONDON (SE) - Newcastle United and Manchester City will both be desperate to return to winning ways as the two sides meet at St James' Park on Saturday.
Second-placed Manchester City (9-6-1) suffered their first league defeat of the season last weekend when they were beaten 3-2 by arch rivals Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium and now trail the Premier League leaders by six points. Newcastle, who are 14th in the table with just 17 points from 16 matches, slumped to a fifth defeat in six matches after losing 2-1 at Fulham on Monday night.
City midfielder Yaya Toure is keen to get his team back to its winning ways in a bid for a second consecutive title.
"The title race is not finished - anything but," said Toure, who had a pair of goals in last season's corresponding fixture, to the team's official website. "We will continue to give United problems in the league and at the end of the season I hope we will win it again."
City will definitely be without England midfielder Gareth Barry, who has been banned for one match and fined £8,000 after admitting a Football Association charge of using abusive and/or insulting words to an official in an incident after the Manchester derby.
Captain Vincent Kompany left last weekend's derby after just 21 minutes due to a groin injury but is expected to be available for manager Roberto Mancini.
Newcastle have fitness doubts over influential midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who suffered a reaction after making his comeback from a hamstring injury in the Fulham match. Defender Steve Taylor (hamstring) and Yohan Cabaye (groin) remain long-term absentees for the Magpies, but winger Gabriel Obertan could return after more than a month out with a toe injury.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has bemoaned his side's injury woes, but is hopeful club owner Mike Ashley will make funds available for him to strengthen the Magpies squad during the January transfer window.
"On our side we look weak with the injuries we have sustained and we may need to bring in a player or two," Pardew said. "We are in the market, as I'm sure a few other clubs will be. Mike has been very supportive and I want to look him in the eye with great results under my belt, but at the minute I can't. I'm looking at him in the eye and I've got tricky results.
"He understands that and has been very supportive and now we look to the window hopefully and we may need some assistance in that but we will see. We're a good side that is under-performing and there are reasons for that but we can't accept that. We have to work and we are working as hard as we can to turn the situation in our favour."
City did the double over Newcastle last season, also beating the Magpies 3-1 at home in November with two penalties (scored by Mario Balotelli and Sergio Aguero) plus a Micah Richards goal. Dan Gosling scored a consolation goal one minute from time.