Joleon Lescott column: City can recover from worst setback of Pep's tenure

Joleon Lescott
LiveScore
06/05/202208:30
Manchester City will look to bounce back against Newcastle after crashing out of the Champions League in midweek
Manchester City will look to bounce back against Newcastle after crashing out of the Champions League in midweek

After their heartbreaking midweek collapse in Madrid, it’s time for Manchester City to show what they are made of against Newcastle.

Make no mistake, that entire away dressing room on Wednesday night would’ve been utterly distraught. 

Losing a game from that position is tough at the best of times, never mind one of that magnitude.

Thinking about it, I’m not sure City have ever suffered a setback quite like this one during Pep Guardiola’s time in charge.

You could compare it to the Champions League final defeat to Chelsea last year. 

However, on that occasion, it was the last game of the season and they didn’t have to bounce back from the disappointment so quickly.

I think the supporters and everyone associated with the club now have a duty to lift the team — and that starts by creating a great atmosphere on Sunday afternoon.

Thankfully for City, the football world moves on quickly. If they go out and get three points, all the focus will shift back on to them closing in on another Premier League title.

Pep Guardiola needs his side to show character when they look to bounce back against Newcastle
Pep Guardiola needs his side to show character when they look to bounce back against Newcastle

Of course, the pain they are feeling from the Real Madrid result won’t disappear, but reacting positively would showcase the elite mindset every truly brilliant team possesses.

Newcastle have really impressed since their January strengthening and I’ve no doubt that Eddie Howe will be referencing City’s predicament in his pre-match briefings.

With the greatest respect to the Magpies though, the level of performance City produced in the Bernabeu would see them put most sides to the sword comfortably — including Newcastle.

It’s a tough blow to bounce back from but I’m backing Pep’s men to do just that.

Reds face tricky Tottenham test

Mohamed Salah and Liverpool welcome top-four chasing Tottenham to Anfield on Saturday
Mohamed Salah and Liverpool welcome top-four chasing Tottenham to Anfield on Saturday

Spirits will certainly be higher among home fans at Anfield on Saturday evening when Liverpool host top-four chasing Tottenham.

Though some will argue the Reds now hold a psychological edge on City this weekend after contrasting midweek fortunes, I’m not so sure.

Focusing purely on the two teams’ fixtures, this clash with Spurs looks the trickier task by a distance to me.

Not only are the visitors still chasing their own target, but we have seen them to really good effect against the division’s better sides this season. 

A 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture saw Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son cause havoc, getting in behind Liverpool’s high line almost at will.

Antonio Conte’s side will naturally set up to play in a similar fashion and with such a clinical front pairing, it’d be no surprise to see them on the scoresheet.

Are they really capable of seeing out a result away from home against an opponent of this calibre though? I’d be surprised.

Luis Diaz has been a revelation since joining Liverpool from Porto
Luis Diaz has been a revelation since joining Liverpool from Porto

What has been most impressive from a Liverpool perspective recently has been the impact of their substitutes — especially Luis Diaz.

Jurgen Klopp turned to the Colombian against Everton and Villarreal when needing a moment of inspiration and he delivered on both occasions.

I knew he was a quality player but I’ve been surprised by how little time he’s needed to settle. He’s come straight in at the required level, which is so impressive.

If it’s not him producing the goods, it’s Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota or Mohamed Salah. The Reds just have so many matchwinners in their ranks, it’s hard to ever oppose them.

Time for my Matchday 36 predictions!

Joleon Lescott’s Premier League Matchday 36 predictions

Brentford vs Southampton (Saturday, 3pm)

Brentford have done brilliantly this season but I do wonder whether they may rest on their laurels a bit. Southampton could prove a dangerous opponent here.

Prediction: Away win

Burnley vs Aston Villa (Saturday, 3pm)

Burnley look to continue their great escape when welcoming Aston Villa
Burnley look to continue their great escape when welcoming Aston Villa

It’s strange to say it but Burnley are now one of the Premier League’s form teams. Aston Villa were much better against lowly Norwich but this will be tougher for Steven Gerrard’s side.

Prediction: Home win

Chelsea vs Wolves (Saturday, 3pm)

The Blues may be hosting Wolves at the wrong time. I can see Bruno Lage taking his out-of-form visitors back to basics and aiming for a clean sheet, which they are very capable of getting.

Prediction: Draw

Crystal Palace vs Watford (Saturday, 3pm)

Roy Hodgson has said Watford will be his last Premier League job — but we've heard that before! I expect the Hornets to start playing with more freedom in these final weeks but that could suit Patrick Vieira's hosts.

Prediction: Home win

Brighton vs Manchester United (Saturday, 5.30pm, Sky Sports)

Manchester United beat Brentford on Monday night but I don’t see this being so straightforward. The Seagulls have a clear style of play and former Red Devils forward Danny Welbeck will be up for it.

Prediction: Home win

Liverpool vs Tottenham (Saturday, 7.45pm, BT Sport)

Despite all the reasons I mention above for Tottenham having a chance here, I'll have to side with Liverpool. You just can't go against them on current form — Klopp's men seem to always have the answers.

Prediction: Home win

Arsenal vs Leeds (Sunday, 2pm, Sky Sports)

It could be a huge weekend for Arsenal's top-four bid as they host Leeds
It could be a huge weekend for Arsenal's top-four bid as they host Leeds

I said Leeds were in big trouble last week and results since then have only made things worse. If Spurs do lose at Liverpool, this becomes a huge game for Arsenal and I expect the Gunners to prevail.

Prediction: Home win

Leicester vs Everton (Sunday, 2pm)

It was a huge result for Everton against Chelsea last week and they will fancy their chances of following it up. However, Leicester will likely be full strength with no European clash next week to plan for.

Prediction: Draw

Norwich vs West Ham (Sunday, 2pm)

In a similar vein to Leicester, West Ham don't have to worry about upcoming Europa League action for the first time in a long while. You'd think the Hammers will edge this one.

Prediction: Away win

Manchester City vs Newcastle (Sunday, 4.30pm, Sky Sports)

As mentioned, I fancy City to have too much for Newcastle despite all the noise coming into the fixture. Once they get an opening goal it should be business as usual for the leaders.

Prediction: Home win

Joleon Lescott was speaking to Matthew Hill

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