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Man City v Newcastle: Key battles

Manchester City round off the opening batch of Premier League fixtures on Saturday tea-time when we play host to Newcastle United at the Etihad (kick-off 5.30pm).

Pep Guardiola’s side will be looking to get back to winning ways before the international break in the wake of last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Wolves.

Newcastle, meanwhile, are still searching for their first league victory of the season, having lost two and drawn one of their opening three league games.

Here we examine on some of the likely key match-ups ahead of Saturday’s Etihad encounter.

Aymeric Laporte v Salomon Rondon

Having joined City at the start of the year, French central defender Laporte is now illustrating just why Guardiola was so keen to bring him to the Etihad.

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Blessed with superb passing ability and a formidable physical presence, Laporte capped a superb individual start to the season by heading home our crucial equaliser at Wolves last weekend.

Laporte will need to maintain that impressive start if he is to nullify the threat of Rondon. The Venezuelan has moved to St James’s Park on a season-long loan deal from West Brom and has been entrusted with Newcastle’s iconic number nine jersey.

A strong, physical front-man blessed with a powerful shot and a threat in the air, Rondon is a throwback to centre-forwards of old and will present a unique challenge to Laporte.

DeAndre Yedlin v Bernardo Silva

Portuguese playmaker Bernardo has begun the new season for City in the same way he ended the last… in imperious form.

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Having found the target in our opening league win away at Arsenal, Bernardo has once again helped light up the Blues with the verve and vivacity which first marked him out as a formidable talent when he was with Monaco.

Bernardo is likely to lock horns with Magpies right-back DeAndre Yedlin on  Saturday. The American international marries tenacious defensive qualities with a formidable engine and looks to bomb forward with Newcastle at every opportunity.

Yedlin is also blessed with a formidable turn of pace, which City will need to factor in.

Given Bernardo’s rich vein of form right now however, and Newcastle's expected conservative approach to the game, it is likely he will spend the majority of his time camped in the Magpies’ half.

Ki Sung-Yeung v Fernandinho

City fans need no reminding as to the vital qualities midfielder Fernandinho brings to the side. A formidable bulwark offering an extra layer of protection to the Blues’ defence, the Brazilian is also a more than potent threat when operating on the front foot. 

However, he’s likely to be kept busy keeping a watchful eye on Ki on Saturday evening.

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The South Korean may still be finding his feet on Tyneside after making a summer move from relegated Swansea.

But having started the Magpies' last two games his elusive running, non-stop energy and tactical awareness mean he is likely to be key component of Rafa Benítez’s line-up. The match-up between the two should be one of several fascinating sub-plots to the game.

Sergio Aguero v Ciaran Clark 

Former Aston Villa central defender Clark is set to be entrusted with one of the most demanding and thankless tasks in the Premier League – keeping Sergio Aguero quiet.

City’s all-time record goalscorer has started the new campaign in imperious form, as illustrated by his brilliant hat-trick in our 6-1 against Huddersfield in City’s first home game of the season and enjoys a formidable record against Newcastle in particular.

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And with the league enjoying a two-week international break after this weekend, Kun will no doubt be eager to sign off with a flourish.

Having moved to the North East from Villa Park in the summer of 2016, Clark has established himself as a dependable central defender, marrying physical presence with athleticism and no lack of skill – qualities he will need in abundance this weekend.

Kyle Walker v Kenedy

Right-back Walker was one of the key factors in City’s record-breaking season last year and he maintained that fine form through England’s march to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia over the summer.

Walker has spoken about being deployed in a slightly different role by Guardiola so far this term but we can expect to see him looking to attack at every opportunity come Saturday tea-time.

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Walker though will have to be mindful of keeping left-side winger Kenedy in check. Back on Tyneside for a second spell on loan from Chelsea, the Brazilian made a huge impact with Newcastle last season.

Blessed with natural skill in abundance, a nifty turn of pace and and an eye for a goal, Kenedy's arrival at Newcastle last January was a key factor in the club securing their Premier League status.

And having sat out the Magpies’ narrow loss to Chelsea last weekend due to the terms of his loan agreement, the Brazilian will be eager to make up for lost time at the Etihad. 

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