The game is being televised live by TNT Sports and for those who are not aware of the machinations of the summer’s media merry-go-round, TNT Sports are the rebranded BT Sports.
Why an established broadcaster thinks a Saturday evening kick off at 8pm is a good thing for the game is beyond even the most fervent armchair supporter (unless of course you are watching from over the pond!) but for the travelling supporter it is yet another slap down.
And if the officials continue to with their stop the watch campaign to deter so called time wasting what chance the ball is still in play when Match of The Day goes to Air.
Incidentally, the last train out of Manchester Piccadilly to Newcastle departs during half time
Added to the travel problems comes news that entry into the Etihad for away supporters is going to be problematic for some due to some idiot deciding that a random number of tickets have been selected for rejection at the turnstiles, requiring the bearer to go to a temporary ticket office to present ID to certify that they are indeed the person that the club allocated the ticket to when purchased.
This means that every away fan must travel with a form of photo ID and if their ID does not match that of the name registered on the Newcastle Utd ticketing database when the ticket was issue, they will be denied entry.
The club has stated it “is taking this step to ensure fairness to all supporters who purchase tickets through its established loyalty points system and to prevent potential ticket touting.”
The words that come to mind include draconian, totalitarian, unnecessary and, a sledge hammer to crack a nut!
Back to the game and Newcastle arrive at the Etihad with no fresh injury worries and a clear week of training behind the, while Pep Guardiola’s squad have been away participating in the UEFA Super Cup against Spanish outfit Seville in Athens; triumphing 5:4 in a penalty shoot-out after the teams finished level at 1:1 after 90 minutes.
Joe Willock and Emil Krafth remain sidelined for Newcastle while City will be without Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones and a doubt hangs over the availability of Ruben Dias.
At his pre match press conference Eddie Howe described the fixture as "an opportunity for us to be at our best".
Asked about the decision he has regarding who to select to lead the line Howe concentrated his towards towards Callum Wilson; the player he left out from last Saturday’s starting 11.
Describing the situation as “very difficult” Howe continued; ‘I think that was one of those calls that I didn’t look forward to making out of my love for Callum. My relationship with him is very strong. I’ve known him a long, long time and he’s been outstanding for me as a manager, from the start of our journey together to now.
“I respect him so to make those calls, when you have to disappoint someone you love, is very difficult but I had to do what I had to do for the team and make a call between one of those two players. Fortunately, the good thing is Alex performed really well and so did Callum when he came on the pitch.
“They both scored, I’m sure they would have both gone home happy to have got off the mark for the season. I think as a striker, you want that first goal as quickly as possible.
“You have to take a longer-term vision of our season. We have games coming up during the months of September and especially Christmas when there’s games all over the place. We’re not going to have a problem giving players opportunities. We need to keep rotating the team to keep everyone fresh.”
Pep Guardiola meanwhile was his usual sharp self at his afternoon press conference after previously being critical of the Premier League’s decision to schedule the game so soon after their Super Cup fixture.
When asked directly about his teams preparedness Guardiola replied, “Of course we are ready. We need these type of challenges. We face difficulties with the injuries we have, the calendar. This is the challenge we have to take a step forward. We need that. That is what it is”.
On Newcastle United as were title contenders Guardiola stated “If they handle the competitions this season, the Champions League, the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and the Premier League. If they handle it well they can compete but it’s completely different when you play one game a week or four games a week but if they are able to handle it, of course they are contenders”.