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Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez

David John expects the second period to be livelier than the first on Wednesday when Newcastle host leaders Manchester City.

Newcastle v Manchester City (1945 GMT, Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League)

The relief was palpable at the London Stadium after Toon clung on for their first victory since mid-October against West Ham but the ultimate test now awaits on Tyneside.

I reckon Rafa Benitez took plenty of pundits by surprise with the way he went for the throat at the weekend but it just about paid off in the end although the hatful of chances they squandered in the first half may have proved costly on another day.

There was certainly a sizeable helping hand along the way thanks to some shambolic West Ham defending but it is back to the drawing board and a new game plan in a bid to halt the country’s most irresistible force.

Bournemouth managed to spar with Manchester City for just under half-an-hour but didn’t have the necessary firepower to get back on terms once they slipped behind.

Benitez does actually have some more options in the final third with Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle and Christian Atsu the sort of buzzy little players with a turn of foot that could unsettle City’s backline.

How much of a chance they will be able to utilise that pace on the break is open to considerable debate which may lead the Spaniard to try to play more of a containment game.

That simply has not worked for anyone this season in the Premier League and if it is not the fluid brilliance of the City attack then they are happy to sit and wait for an error or lapse in concentration before striking like a cobra.

To that end, I take outstanding tactician Benitez to frustrate the visitors a little bit more than most and more goals arriving in the second period than the opening 45 minutes gets the vote.

Prediction: Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City

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1pt second half to be the highest scoring in Newcastle v Manchester City at 21/20

Posted at 1315 GMT on 26/12/17.

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Most Read Football

=?UTF-8?Q?Burnley=E2=80=99s_Ashley_Barnes_celebrates?=1

Chelsea misfire in top-four battle

Maurizio Sarri was sent to the stands as Chelsea blew a big chance to stake their Champions League claim by slipping to a 2-2 Premier League draw with Burnley.

Sergi Canos celebrates his goal against Leeds2

Loss effectively ends Leeds' hopes

Brentford dealt Leeds' hopes of an automatic return to the Premier League a hammer blow with a thrilling 2-0 win at Griffin Park.

Check out today's Paper Talk3

Paper Talk: Lukaku leaving?

Juventus are eyeing Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku with Manchester United happy to listen to offers - get all the latest from today's back pages.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package4

Premier League betting preview

Tuesday sees two games in the Premier League as Tottenham welcome Brighton and Watford take on Southampton. We have two best bets.

Enda Stevens scores Sheffield United's third goal against Hull City5

Blades edge closer to promotion

Sheffield United made it five games without defeat as they hammered Hull City to move closer to securing automatic promotion

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