Manchester City travelled away midweek to Newcastle United knowing it would be a test. Newcastle is a side that has been struggling, but still safe in the last spot above relegation. Everyone knows Rafa Benitez’s sides are strong and organized defensively, but only Manchester City’s poor play allowed Newcastle to win 2-1.
How Newcastle United Shocked Manchester City
Long has the Premier League been famed for the strength of its depth; that on any given night, any given team can win. But that hasn’t been the case lately, two of the longest winning streaks to start a season happened in the last two years. Liverpool and Manchester City are supposed to be teams that can stop that trend.
But there is nothing you can do when the other team plays the way Newcastle did. Cliches are overrated, and saying that one team wanted it more than the other is categorically ridiculous. Newcastle and Manchester City both wanted to win this game. But one team thought they would win, and the other team knew they would have to work in order to win.
It was set up like a classic Rafa Benitez team. They had a solid back five with strong players. Florian Lejeune has been magnificent for Newcastle since coming back from an ACL tear during preseason. And with Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar alongside him, Newcastle had three strong centre-backs to defend. Their wing-backs barely crossed over the halfway line.
In front of that back line of five was a midfield of four City should’ve been able to get by. But Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden were exceptional in the middle of the park. There were barely any moments where Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva got a free run through the middle, and that is down to their play.
It’s easy to besmirch them for parking the bus, and they really parked it; Ederson had more touches than both Longstaff or Hayden. But survival in the Premier League is an at-all-costs business and Newcastle besmirching Newcastle for how they played is missing the point. They took it upon themselves to stop Man City from scoring and they stuck to their task.
Apart from Sergio Aguero’s 25th-second goal; how many clear cut chances did Manchester City create? City had four shots on target all night. Two of them went straight to the ‘keeper, one was the goal and the other was a blocked header by David Silva. Raheem Sterling was on for 90’, no shots on target, Kevin De Bruyne played 65’, no shots on target. And if you add Leroy Sane’s 73’, the trio combined for one shot, that was blocked.
If that’s the amount of production those three players are going to give, it will be hard to win anywhere or against anyone. Newcastle completely shut down Manchester City’s preferred methods of attack. And when City did get the ball into a position of strength Newcastle closed with the will of all the fans who want Mike Ashley to sell.
The Newcastle players blocked five shots against City, more than their average. They blocked 13, that’s right, 13 crosses, ten more than their average. Newcastle had 27 clearances, 16 interceptions and 33 tackles against City. That’s all miles above their averages, and it shows the supreme effort those players put into this result.
The Title is Still On
Do not think for one second that this result means the Liverpool have won the Premier League title. If Manchester City lost at Newcastle, why couldn’t Leicester City beat Liverpool tomorrow night? Van Dijk is a doubt for the game. Won’t all this complaining about a lost title look silly the next time Liverpool lose?
The last time Liverpool and Manchester City battled for a title, Gerrard slipped and so did an eight-point lead with six games to go. There are still fourteen games left in this Premier League season. And again, the Premier League is famed for any given team winning any given night.
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