Man City weren’t at their brilliant best today, but they still came away with a convincing 4-0 win via a little help from VAR and some truly awful defending by NUFC.
We were denied one of the most blatant penalties you will see all season in the first half, with VAR ignoring Ederson’s blatant foul on Fraser, however we can’t expect anything other than a heavy defeat if we defend like that against the league leaders; even if it would’ve been nice to see referees do their job for once!
A calamitous piece of defending by Ciaran Clark gifted Dias and early goal, which was followed by a thunderbolt from Cancelo just before the half-hour mark.
We had the odd moment through Joelinton – who was our best player by a mile in a box-to-box midfield role – but City bagged two more after the break through Mahrez and Sterling.
The fans inside St James’ Park never stopped singing, however it was the nightmare before Christmas for Eddie Howe, with yet another heavy defeat featuring more horrific defending and a fifth yellow of the season for Isaac Hayden; meaning he’ll now miss next Monday’s clash with Man Utd.
Howe made FIVE changes from Thursday’s 3-1 defeat at Anfield, seeing Clark, Murphy, Willock, Almrion and Wilson replace Schar, Manquillo, Lewis, Shelvey and Saint-Maximin.
Worryingly, both Shelvey and Manquillo were missing from the entire squad, which meant Toon teenagers Elliot Anderson and Joe White were named on the bench.
STARTING 11: Dubravka – Murphy, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie – Hayden, Willock -Almiron, Joelinton, Fraser – Wilson.
SUBS: Darlow, Schar, Hendrick, Krafth, Anderson, Saint-Maximin, Gayle, S Longstaff, White.
It was never going to be easy, but there were huge pre-match concerns regarding our back four’s ability to cope with Mahrez, Sterling, Jesus, De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, with us forced to play two out-of-form centre-backs and two wingers at full-back in a four-man defence.
One thing we had to cut out, not just in this game but in general, was stupid errors. We’ve made so many mistakes that have led to goals this season, and we did exactly that barely five minutes into this one.
As Cancelo found space to hook a high ball back into the box, an amateurish lack of communication between Clark and Dubravka meant neither took charge of the situation and Dias headed home from just a couple of yards out.
1-0 City and a truly calamitous start, proving once again why Ciaran Clark should not be playing Premier League football anymore. Some will say Dubravka should’ve come out to claim it, but Clark HAS to deal with that when he doesn’t get the shout – not leave it for a tap-in!
It then got worse 27 minutes in, although this time via a piece of Brilliance from Cancelo. He was given too much space to get the shot away and should’ve been closed down quicker, but his 20-yard strike gave Dubravka no chance, flying into the top left corner to make it 2-0.
Then, just a few minutes later we were denied one of the most stone-wall penalties you’ll ever see, as Ederson clattered into Fraser just after Cancelo had taken the ball from his path. It was bad enough that Atkinson didn’t give it, but the fact the video assistant didn’t then get in his ear and demand a penalty be given is honestly beyond belief. Just like at Anfield a few days ago, we had been well and truly shafted by VAR here.
It’s quite incredible that VAR will disallow goals for a toenail making someone inches offside, yet can’t look back at incidents like this and give a penalty!
So, in we went 2-0 down at the break. We actually gave Man City a decent game in parts, should’ve had a penalty and could’ve scored from a Hayden header from five yards out, yet another stupid error at the back, a moment of brilliance and some embarrassing officiating proved costly. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it!?
It must be said that Joelinton was outstanding in that first half. He was almost playing on the left side of a midfield three and was like a battering ram, dominating that area of the field, driving us forward and proving a real handful for City midfielders who couldn’t cope with his physicality.
The second half kicked off and we’d made one change, with Allan Saint-Maximin replacing Joe Willock; meaning Joelinton would drop in alongside Isaac Hayden in the final 45.
52 minutes in and City very nearly made it three. Cancelo hung a ball up to the back post, Bernardo knocked it back across goal and Jesus looked all set to head home…only to be denied by a brilliant save by Dubravka.
Howe made a second change on the hour mark, bringing Sean Longstaff on for Isaac Hayden – who was walking a tightrope after a first half booking that’s left him suspended for our upcoming clash with Man Utd on the 27th.
A few minutes later, it was 3-0. Zinchenko picked out an unmarked Mahrez at the back post and the Algerian guided it into the bottom corner. The offside flag went up initially, but VAR replays showed Lascelles was keeping him onside and the goal was given.
Hendrick came on for his first appearance under Howe with 10 minutes remaining and our first shot on target followed soon after, when Wilson had a header well saved by Ederson after an inviting cross from Fraser.
Sterling then made it four with five minutes remaining, tapping in at the back post after Jesus skipped past Murphy with ease and put it on a plate for the England international.
Full time, Newcastle 0, Man City 4. The crowd never stopped signing, but an onlooking Amanda Staveley must realise what a huge month awaits for this football club.
Next up, a meeting with Man Utd at St James’ Park a week tomorrow…providing it’s allowed to go ahead!