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Opposition view: Newcastle writer gives score and team predictions ahead of Man City fixture

We asked Jordan Cronin of NewcastleWorld to give us the latest on Eddie Howe’s Magpies.

Manchester City face Newcastle United this Sunday, in a game that could prove hugely influential on the title race.

When the sides last met in December, City swotted Eddie Howe’s men aside with relative ease, and they looked all set for a relegation scrap in the second half of the campaign.

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Fast forward nearly five months and the mood has really changed in the North-East, with Newcastle sitting 10th in the table and fans even wondering if they could challenge the Sky Blues for silverware in the coming years.

But just how have they turned things around and how much of a threat do they pose to a City side who are no doubt still reeling from the midweek Champions League exit?

We asked the man who knows the Magpies better than anyone, Jordan Cronin of our sister site NewcastleWorld. Here’s what he had to say ahead of Sunday’s clash…

Eddie Howe has turned things around at St James’s Park. Credit: Getty.

When City last played Newcastle it was a relatively comfortable 4-0 win, but a lot has changed since then. What do you put the upturn in results down to?

Outsiders will point towards the £90m spent in January on five new signings for the upturn in form, and while that has undoubtedly helped, it’s not the biggest reason why Newcastle have surged away from relegation danger. It’s about Eddie Howe, how meticulous he is and his ability to get the best out of the group he already had. The prime example is Joelinton, a player completely written off before Howe arrived. Somehow, he’s converted the Brazilian from a £40m striker flop to one of the most in-form midfielders in the Premier League.

Bruno Guimaraes has impressed since moving to Newcastle in January. Credit: Getty.

A lot has been made of Bruno Guimaraes’ form - just how good is he? Is he even at the same level as City’s midfield?

Bruno Guimaraes is absolutely outstanding and is already on his way to becoming a world-class player. You know, he might not have been a bad shout to replace Fernandinho actually, especially when he played in a deep midfield role at Lyon. However, at Newcastle, he’s been more box-to-box, and relished it. In no way was he signed to score goals, but he’s managed to chip in with four in just eights starts. He really is a complete player - a class above anyone in Newcastle’s midfield. I’ve never seen a player so calm on the ball and his eye for a pass is brilliant. Initially, I was concerned he’d struggle with the physicality of the Premier League but he has more than held his own. As I say, Bruno is a star in the making. Newcastle pulled off an absolute coup to get him, especially in the midst of a relegation battle.

City won 4-0 in the reverse fixture last December. Credit: Getty.

Do you think there’s anything Eddie Howe will change from last week’s loss to Liverpool?

With three games left to play, and nothing to play for really, it’s hard to predict Howe’s team selection. Joelinton has played the previous two games as a left forward so could return to partner Guimaraes and Jonjo Shelvey in central midfield. I expect Jamaal Lascelles to step in for Fabian Schar at the back and Chris Wood to lead the line after two games on the bench. Formation-wise, who knows? Howe had favoured 4-3-3 but isn’t afraid to switch to 5-4-1.

Do you give the Magpies any chance of getting a result this weekend?

No, I don’t sadly. Going to the Etihad and getting a result is a really tough ask. And as history shows, it’s never been a happy hunting ground for Newcastle. I fear Howe’s side will take the brunt of City’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid in midweek.

Long-term, do you think Newcastle could begin to challenge City for silverware in the coming years?

I do, yes. That’s the ambition of the new owners and they’ll do everything in their power to get Newcastle competing for domestic and European honours. That said, Newcastle are a long, long way from that right now and I’m sure they’re aware that getting to City’s level takes time, patience and clever planning. The early signs have been promising - they’ve recruited well on and the pitch amid Dan Ashworth’s impending arrival. I’m not sure on a timescale but Newcastle will challenge City in the future.