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Man City must follow Newcastle’s 2012 lead as Pep Guardiola aims for Premier League crown – Alex Brotherton

Manchester City travel to Newcastle on Sunday knowing that a win will put them in a great position in the title race ahead of the crowded holiday season.

City currently sit atop the Premier League table with 41 points, one above Liverpool, second and four above Chelsea. With City’s main rivals set to face off on January 2, Guardiola’s side may soon find themselves in a healthy position as they seek to defend their crown.

Newcastle are a team that City almost always beat at home, but trips to St James’ Park are another matter altogether.

City have won two, drawn and lost one of four league fixtures against Newcastle under Guardiola’s tenure. In those five games, the hosts have scored seven goals, such a sure sign that City rarely have their way in the Northeast.

If the Blues are to make the most of their current advantage in the title race, they could do worse than looking to replicate a successful afternoon at St James’ almost 10 years ago.

It was the penultimate game of the season and City led the league on goal difference thanks to a famous 1-0 loss to Manchester United.

City knew that a win at Newcastle would give them a win over fighters Queens Park Rangers on the final day to clinch a very first Premier League crown.

Of course, we all know that the victory on the final day was not as easy as it should have been, but the 94th minute winner of Sergio Aguero was enough to secure the title thanks to a brave display and professional the week before.

Everyone remembers the QPR game, but the victory at Newcastle was just as important

In May 2012, Newcastle weren’t the football chaos they are now. Alan Pardew had remarkably made the club into the top four contenders by assembling a hard-working team led by the brilliant duo of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.

That the Magpies were unlucky alone finishing fifth in the final standings shows how good they have been all season.

Still, City emerged with a crucial, hard-fought victory, even as with just over 20 minutes to go, City fans began to wonder if City’s typical curse was going to rear its ugly head.

Yaya Toure was the hero that day, wrapping a lavish effort into the bottom corner of Tim Krul’s goal after 70 minutes, before concluding the three runs from close range in the 89th.

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While this scenario is totally different from what the city faces today, there are still some valuable lessons to be learned. City have won 10 straight home league games with Newcastle, although Eddie Howe’s side are a different proposition on their own turf.

As City discovered in 2011/12, results against the “minus” teams in the division can dictate a title charge just as much as those against the big guns.

How do you think City will fare against Newcastle on Sunday? Follow our City Is ours a writer Alex brotherton on Twitter to participate in the discussion and give us your feedback in the comments section below.

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