City won three points against a thuggish Newcastle side this afternoon at St. James’ Park despite a refereeing horrorshow from Mike Jones. The team’s sixth Premier League win in a row left them sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table. Here are a few thoughts on the game…
Newcastle were dominant for large stretches of the game and the defence were put under an enormous amount of pressure. Considering how often City have been shaky at the back this season, especially away from home, it was somewhat of a relief to see the defenders step up and keep a rare clean sheet. The debate over whether Tiote’s goal should have stood will feel endless but that aside, Newcastle were restricted to a very small number of genuine chances by Kompany’s men. What little did get through was dealt with rather well by Hart who provided more evidence that he is getting back to his best.
The boys at the back were organised, tenacious and happy to fight with Newcastle all afternoon.
Demichelis returned to the team following a small injury and played well. In the first half in particular he cut out several dangerous looking Newcastle breakaways simply by being in the right place at the right time. As per usual, the ball seemed to be attracted to Demichelis’ head, an important asset which was severely tested in the second half as Newcastle put the ball into the City penalty area time and again. Kompany himself called it, “great old-school defending,” on Twitter after the game.
Kolarov was also excellent, continuing his fantastic recent form. The left wing has looked to be a danger area but Kolarov dealt with the Newcastle threat down that side fairly well. He also provided yet another assist for Dzeko’s 7th minute opener, linking up well with Silva after thundering forward in the way he does. The trick was almost repeated 3 minutes later but Negredo could not finish the move off.
Pointing out another human being’s abject failings is an unpleasant hobby for people who aren’t sociopaths, but sometimes it cannot be avoided. Mike Jones put in one of the worst refereeing performances in recent memory. Tiote’s goal being ruled offside was debatable at very best, but from a City perspective it is the consequences of that decision which proved to be the real kicker.
Alan Pardew may be a truly dislikeable person (as his comments to Pellegrini proved) but he cannot be accused of lacking guile. Everyone watching that game knew Pardew would send his players out in the second half with instructions to kick City players out of the game in full knowledge that there would be limited reprisal from the referee. Lo and behold, Mike Jones tried to ‘even things out’ and proved what everybody already knew. Maybe it was an attempt to try and get people to like him again? What followed was a half filled with rancid tackles from Newcastle players trying to injure City players. The home team should have been down to 9 men by the time 70 minutes had been played, except they had been handed an unofficial immunity by a weak and cowardly referee.
This maverick approach to refereeing culminated in Samir Nasri becoming the victim of an atrocious Yanga-Mbiwa tackle which should have been a straight red but wasn’t, obviously. The regular chatter and rumours are saying Nasri’s medial ligaments have been damaged which means we probably won’t see one of our outstanding players of the season again for a long while.
With luck, Mike Jones will shortly be acquainted with the Championship and we won’t see him again for a long time either. Both City and Newcastle fans can agree on that.
It was a surprise to see him substituted as he was in the middle of one of his better games for City. The goal was well taken following an excellently timed run, he was chasing defenders down, and seemed to be up for the physical challenge that Newcastle represent. Unfortunately for him it was a game where Pellegrini needed more bodies in midfield and something had to give.
If he can keep up the level of commitment he showed today then he may yet be worth keeping faith in. That is a big ‘if’, and we have been here before, but hopefully it will continue. Even with Aguero on the way back, the fixture list is unrelenting and more chances are available for him to seize.
Written by Alex Timperley