Newcastle United host Manchester City later today in the 24th round of Premier League games of the campaign, and manager Rafa Benitez isn’t looking to attack against the defending champions.
“It makes no sense to have a go and lose 6-1 and be happy with that because we had a go, or lose 9-0. You cannot do that because it’s really bad for the confidence of your players,” he said during yesterday’s press conference.
“Each one is managing the team that he has. Depending on the characteristics of your players and the level of your players, you manage. If your players are much better than the other team, you will attack, for sure.
“I have been with top sides where we were attacking and we were scoring goals. But at the same time, balance is the key and this group of players when they do what they have to do and when they work hard like they have, we are quite strong and we are quite solid.”
The approach worked against Pep Guardiola’s side at Saint James’ Park last term, with the visitors only getting a narrow win through a lone goal.
They won 3-1 during the return leg and also won 2-1 last September at the Etihad, and while City boss admits that Newcastle defend very well, he reckons that it still always plays into his hands.
“Newcastle defend really well,’ Guardiola said, as reported by Sportsmail.
“But also, at the same time, I feel with this kind of defence we attack better, can control their counter attacks and concede fewer set pieces.”
Manchester City have conceded just a goal (to Liverpool) in eight games across all competitions in 2019, scoring 30 goals at the other end.
With only four points separating them from league leaders Liverpool, the Etihad outfit know they can’t afford any more slip-ups, and anything apart from a win against Newcastle will further deal a huge blow on their title defence.
The Magpies will surely defend with their lives against City, but it will only enhance the visitors’ attack, limit the hosts’ counter attacks and see them win a few set pieces.
It remains to be seen if Newcastle can cause an upset tonight, but going by both managers’ game plans and squads’ quality, City shouldn’t have a had time leaving SJP with all three points.