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Newcastle United 0-1 Manchester City: Three talking points from St James’ Park

Manchester City made it 18 Premier League victories in a row as they overcame a determined Newcastle United team.

On the balance of the play, it was a fair result and it could have been by a bigger margin, but the home side made it difficult for the league leaders and stayed in the game until the death.

In each of their last three league matches, City have scored four goals. They were limited to one by the Magpies and that is a moral victory for Rafa Benitez. Here are three talking points from the match…

‘The Premier League is becoming a joke league’

The first half was one-sided as Newcastle United showed little ambition and remained deep in an attempt to frustrate Manchester City. During the half-time break, Jamie Carragher blasted the tactics and suggested that it showed a wider trend in the Premier League. The Daily Mail reports the following comments from the pundit:

“Not just Newcastle but the Premier League in general, when they come up against the top six, certainly at home, it’s becoming embarrassing.

“The Premier League now is becoming a bit of a joke league, with the top teams being so far ahead of the ones at the bottom. For those clubs, its almost like they are accepting they are going to lose the game, as long as it is only one or two-nil.

“The Premier League has been built on every team having a go, that’s why everyone around the world wants to watch it. Will they keep watching if they keep seeing football like that?”

It is difficult to argue with Carragher as the gap between the top six and the rest of the league is growing on a yearly basis. The finances that the top clubs have mean that they can bring in a level of player that the rest can only dream of and that leads to one-sided matches.

During this game, Newcastle wanted to remain in the game until the late stages and play a more offensive style then. Their game-plan became more apparent as the game progressed. That said, the league is becoming less competitive as Carragher alludes to and that is a huge shame.

Newcastle were beaten but not embarrassed

Newcastle United nearly delivered the perfect game-plan as they had chances in the second-half to end Manchester City’s winning run. Considering the visitors had scored 12 goals in their last three Premier League matches, it was the right idea from Benitez to concentrate on staying in the game until the late stages. The tactics not only gave his side an opportunity to take something from the game but it meant their goal difference didn’t take a major hit. That could be important come the end of the season.

They may have been negative, but they did have chances to get on the score-sheet. Rolando Aarons came close to scoring in the first-half. His chipped effort was cleared off the line by Nicolas Otamendi. Later in the game, the Magpies started to push hard and Dwight Gayle had two good chances to equalise. He chose to dive on one of these, rather than strike an effort on goal, despite being in a good position. Then late on, he put a header just wide. This was a loss, but it wasn’t as embarrassing as it has been for a lot of their rivals near the bottom of the table.

Kevin de Bruyne is the best player in the Premier League

This is an opinion rather than a fact, but the Belgian international ran the game on Wednesday and was the difference between the two sides. The only goal of the game was made by De Bruyne as he lofted an incredible ball over the Newcastle defence to an on-rushing Raheem Sterling who finished past Rob Elliot. It was a very difficult pass to get right and the classy Belgian deserves a lot of credit for it.

During the match, he made four key passes and attempted five shots. One of his efforts on goal struck the post as he once again showed how dangerous he can be from range. It was exhibition stuff from De Bruyne at times as he showed he was a cut above the opposition at St James’ Park. There are a lot of great players in the Premier League, but few manage to dominate matches with regularity like the Belgian. He is already a frontrunner to win the PFA Player of the Year award. If he continues to perform like this, that will be a guarantee.