Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce believes fans calling for his sacking are “fully justified”, as he prepares his team to face Manchester City.
The Magpies crashed out of the EFL Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, going down 1-0 to Championship club Brentford.
Newcastle sit 12th in the Premier League but have not won either of their last two league matches, losing heavily to Leeds United and drawing at home to Fulham.
“You have to accept the criticism, which is fully justified. We should not be getting beaten with a chance to get to the semi-final for the first time in 45 years,” Bruce said after the Brentford defeat. “I understand their disappointment because there is no one more disappointed than I am. I have to accept what is coming my way. I understand social media. All I can do is dust myself down and go back to work (Wednesday). I am as frustrated, disappointed and bitterly upset as the huge following that we have.
“I have to be ready for the challenge of it and for a huge busy Christmas period and get on with it.”
While Newcastle went out, their Boxing Day opponents City cruised to a 4-1 win over Arsenal, and Pep Guardiola was pleased with an efficient display at Emirates Stadium.
“You have to be professional, of course,” he said. “The second goal, the goalkeeper’s situation. The third goal, perhaps it is offside. So these kind of situations change the game.
“I think we started quite well, but after that they changed from a back five to a back four and we could not find the spaces. We were not free in our fluidity. We changed something at half-time and we were much better, apart from the second and third goal being lucky.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester City – Kevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne has provided 15 Premier League assists in 2020, three short of his record in a single calendar year in the competition (18 in 2017). The Belgian has been involved in seven goals in his seven league games against Newcastle (two goals, five assists).
Newcastle United – Karl Darlow
While it is safe to say City have not hit their top level this season, they returned to goalscoring form in style against Arsenal and Newcastle goalkeeper Darlow is surely set to be a busy man.
KEY OPTA FACTS
• City have won each of their last 11 Premier League home games against Newcastle, scoring 39 goals and conceding just seven in return. It is the Citizens’ longest winning home run against an opponent in their top-flight history.
• City have scored in each of their last 23 Premier League games against Newcastle (61 goals in total) – only Arsenal have had a longer run of scoring in consecutive games against an opponent in the competition (24 vs West Bromwich Albion).
• Newcastle have lost each of their last five league Boxing Day games, since a 5-1 win against Stoke in 2013. Indeed, in the Premier League the Magpies have lost more Boxing Day games (14) and conceded more Boxing Day goals (42) than any other side in the competition.
• City’s 19 goals in 13 Premier League games this season is their lowest goals-per-game ratio in the competition (1.46) since 2007-08 (1.18). It is also Guardiola’s lowest such ratio in his top-flight managerial career.
• Sergio Aguero’s 15 Premier League goals for Man City against Newcastle is the most a player has scored for a single team against a specific opponent in the competition’s history.
• Callum Wilson has scored eight goals in 12 Premier League games this season, as many as he netted in 35 appearances last term. Only in 2018-19 (14) has he scored more in a single campaign in the competition.