Sergio Aguero is eyeing his Premier League century as Manchester City look to tighten their grip on a top-four spot at relegation-threatened Newcastle on Tuesday night.
The prolific Aguero took his goal tally in England’s top flight to 99 with a hat-trick in Saturday’s comfortable 3-0 win at Chelsea.
The Argentinian’s goals have come in 146 appearances and, on average, every 107.66 minutes. That minutes-to-goals ratio – of players who have found the net more than 10 times – is the best in the competition’s history, according to Opta. Thierry Henry’s 176 goals every 121.79 minutes is the next best.
Aguero will hope to improve his record against the Magpies, a side against whom he has enjoyed considerable success in the past.
The 27-year-old hit five when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium in October and in all he has struck 10 times against the side from St James’ Park.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini said: “He has scored an important amount of goals and he is just behind (Harry) Kane and (Jamie) Vardy, so he is fighting to be the top scorer in this year also.
“The way that he is playing, especially the last game, I am sure that it will be difficult for the other strikers to keep up with his performances.”
Third-placed City, needing points to further tighten their grip on a top-four spot, are hoping to welcome back captain Vincent Kompany and forward Raheem Sterling.
Kompany has been included in the squad after a month on the sidelines with the latest in a long line of calf-related problems while Sterling is back in contention after five games out with a groin injury.
Their return to fitness is timely just a week ahead of the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid.
Playmaker David Silva will again sit out to rest an ankle injury while Pellegrini says Samir Nasri, only recently returned from a lengthy absence following thigh surgery, has a “small muscle problem”. Full-backs Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna also have back issues.
Newcastle are anxious for points to pull themselves out of the relegation zone and manager Rafael Benitez has warned his team that keeping Aguero quiet will only be part of the job.
Benitez, who secured a much-needed first win since taking charge against Swansea on Saturday, said: “Hopefully he can score a lot of goals in the Champions League, but not against us.
“To stop him, it’s not just about one player, you have to work as a team. But they have so many good players that you can’t concentrate on just Aguero.”