Manchester City beat Newcastle United 2-0 in their first match of the new Premier League season. It was far from smooth sailing for last year’s Premier League champions however, with victory only secured after a last minute Sergio Aguero goal eased the tension from a sustained Newcastle siege on the Man City goal. We shall examine what were the most important things that we learned from the proceedings.
Newcastle’s newcomers need not worry
The new additions for Newcastle shined brightly on Sunday. Emmanuel Rivierie and Remy Cabella took no time to adopt to the white and black stripes, as both looked sharp from the start. Between the two of them they had 6 shots and created 3 chances. The home-crowd was raucous with support for the new duo upfront despite neither of them scoring. They also added a touch of flair to the game, winning over 75% of their dribbles. The duo promises to be quite the bright point for the rest of the season.
“You’ll never get past Fernando; he’s magic, you know”
While the lyrics and the melody might need some work, the subject of the City fan’s song was flowing in perfect rhythm. Fernando’s Premier League debut was almost flawless. After a tentative first twenty minutes where he seemed like he was getting an idea of the pace of the game, he fell in line quickly and dominated along side Yaya Toure. Fernando made 3 tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 clearances and also demonstrated a deft touch with the ball, completing 91% of his passes. This is bad news for the rest of the EPL. Factoring in Fernandinho, City looks to have three incredibly talented center midfielders. This the first successful showing of Pelligrini’s off-season plan to add depth to the roster in order to bolster them across all competitions.
Newcastle’s weakness: Full Back
While the Toon’s defense did a good job overall of keeping City out of the back of the net, they could do nothing to keep them out of their attacking third. Kolarov and Silva were practically unstoppable and had many long raiding runs that ended in on target deliveries into the 18 yard box. Janmaat looked completely outclassed from the start on Newcastle’s right side. Alan Pardew’s squad will need to come up with a solution for this problem, as City showed the rest of the league an effective blue-print on how to play Newcastle.
Man of the Match: Gael Clichy
While the post-game highlights showed replays of Dzeko’s back-heel pass and Aguero’s calm last minute finish neither of City’s attacking players deserve the man of the match award. Strangely absent were the highlights that took place on Newcastle’s attacking left wing. And this is simply because there were none. Gael Clichy dominated in every sense of the word, collecting 8 tackles throughout the game; currently leading the Premier League’s chart for this statistic. When combined with 5 interceptions, and 7 clearances his shutdown defensive performance deserves all the praise. In a team that has surplus of wing backs, Pellegrini will be hard pressed to bench Clichy after his performance on Sunday.
Calm as could be: Manchester City
Manchester city never struggled in this match up. They withheld Newcastle’s 80th minute push, and while the defense bended at times it never gave the appearance of breaking. Jovetic and Dzeko handled themselves professionally and paired well upfront together; Aguero’s late substitution was a matter of practicality and not necessity. The entire midfield performed up to standards, and were it not for some misplaced passes, the scoreline could have been more in City’s favor. This game was a clear sign to the rest of the league that the Citizens are prepared to not only defend their title, but also make a strong push for the Champions league success.
Do you think that Manchester City showed the beginnings of the signs of Premier League champions? How successful can Newcastle’s season be if their players can replicate the quality and desire in attacking areas we saw during this match? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .