Top-ranked Newcastle to upset defending champions Man City in EPL first round

Top-ranked Newcastle to upset defending champions Man City in EPL first round

As the top seed in the first round of the 2023-2024 English Premier League (EPL) season, Newcastle United faces a real test. They face defending champions Manchester City in a second-round away match on April 20 (ET). It will be interesting to see if the Magpies can continue their momentum from their first-leg victory against the top team.안전놀이터

Newcastle thrashed Aston Villa 5-1 at home in the first round on March 13. The Magpies proved that their offseason form was no fluke with a solid performance from both defense and offense. The Magpies carried over the momentum from their August friendlies, which saw them beat Fiorentina 2-0 and Villarreal 4-0. The sweeping victories propelled them to the top of the league table.

City, who won the EPL title and a European treble last season, reached the summit of the 2023 UEFA Super Cup in midweek. Against Sevilla, they drew 1-1 in regulation time before winning 5-4 on penalties. It marked the club’s first UEFA Super Cup title since its inception. In the first round of the EPL on Dec. 12, the team defeated Burnley 3-0 away from home. They finished third in the first round.

On paper, City has the edge. They are clearly superior in attack with Elling Holland at the helm, and have a stronger midfield and defense. They also have home field advantage. Last season’s head-to-head was also dominated by a 1-1 draw. They drew 3-3 away on August 22 last year and won 2-0 at home on March 4 this year.

The variables are injury list and fitness. The City side is not in better shape. Kevin De Bruyne’s injury absence is particularly troubling. De Bruyne has decided to have surgery and will be out of action for a while. Bernardo Silva is also injured. Add to that the energy drain of playing three games in ten days at the start of the season. They faced Arsenal in the Community Shield on July 7 and lost 1-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, then beat Burnley in their EPL opener and knocked out Sevilla in the Super Cup. Newcastle, who play a week after the first leg on July 13, may have the physical advantage.

Last season, City and Newcastle finished in the EPL’s top four. City won the title with 89 points, ahead of Arsenal (85). Newcastle won a tight fourth-place battle and qualified for this season’s UEFA Champions League. They finished with 71 points, ahead of Liverpool (67). Last season’s EPL champion and fourth-place finisher will meet in the second-round clash.

[Newcastle players celebrate after beating Aston Villa in the first round (above) and Man City players celebrate after winning the UEFA Super Cup.]

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