If ever a football match was worthy of being referred to as “a game of two halves” then this was it. City went into the game on the back of two successive league defeats and when Aleksandar Mitrović gave the visitors the lead in the 18th minute it looked like it was going to be another one of those days. Thankfully though, Sergio Agüero finally found his scoring form at just the right time for the Blues and proceeded to fill his boots in the second half, netting five times in total and helping his team to an emphatic 6-1 victory. Here’s how I rated him and the rest of the players on the day.
1 Joe Hart – 8/10
City’s stopper wasn’t nearly as busy as he was in the Champions League in mid-week but his save to deny Newcastle from doubling their lead in the first half turned out to be an absolutely crucial one. His distribution appears to have come on leaps and bounds this season and it’s comforting to know that he can be relied upon to come to the aid of a porous City defence more often than not at the moment.
5 Pablo Zabaleta – 6/10
Looked rusty during the first half of what was his first start and only his second appearance of the season but improved as the game wore on. He was beaten far too easily having over-committed himself in the build up to Newcastle’s goal but a lack of sharpness is to be expected given the length of his injury lay-off.
30 Nicolás Otamendi – 5/10
It’s perhaps indicative of the modern football supporter’s desire for instant gratification that Otamendi is already being written off in some quarters of City’s fanbase after a shaky start to life in a blue shirt. He was as culpable as anyone in Newcastle’s goal and didn’t exactly inspire confidence during the rest of the first half but he’s clearly a good player who’s taking a little bit of time to adjust to a new league.
20 Eliaquim Mangala – 5/10
It’s possibly unfair to lay too much of the blame for Newcastle’s goal on Mangala’s shoulders given it was he who made the initial clearance but he contributed to the overall shakiness of City’s defence in the first half and worryingly appeared to lose concentration on more than one occasion.
11 Aleksandar Kolarov – 6/10
There remain huge question marks over Kolarov’s reliabilty defensively but he always does his bit going forward and this was a performance full of running and crossing from wide areas. His form has tailed off somewhat since his impressive start to the season but he has played every minute of every game for City so far in this campaign and could probably do with a rest.
6 Fernando – 6/10
I was personally interested to find out whether Fernando coming in for the injured Yaya Touré would provide some much needed solidity to City’s midfield and greater protection to the back four but, in the first half at least, that didn’t appear to be the case. Having said that, he did the simple things well and appears much sharper than he was last season which is encouraging. A two-man midfield is still a risky strategy for City however, regardless of personnel.
25 Fernandinho – 7/10
Continued his fine start to the season with a solid performance but like his fellow compatriot in midfield, one has to wonder whether City’s midfield should be being bypassed as often as it is. Fernandinho can never be faulted for effort, however, and as usual he covered plenty of ground and did what needed to be done more often than not.
7 Raheem Sterling – 4/10
I took to Twitter at half-time of this game in order to vent my frustration at what had been another disappointing and ineffectual performance from England’s most expensive player. He seemed to give the ball away every time he got it and slowed his team’s attacks down by running into blind alleys time and time again. I can only assume Pellegrini had a quick look at my timeline on his way back to the dressing room at the interval as he followed my advice to the letter, withdrawing Sterling and bringing on Jesús Navas in his stead. It’s still early days for young Raheem, of course, but he shouldn’t be a guaranteed starter for this team on current form and will need to fight to regain his place.
21 David Silva – 8/10
If proof were ever needed of just how good David Silva is then one only needs to watch a City team without him in it. It’s no great surprise that the Blues’ downturn in form coincided with the Spaniard’s absence through injury this season and I do wonder whether City would have been able to break Newcastle down and get themselves back into this game were it not for his piece of ingenuinity in the build up to the equaliser.
17 Kevin De Bruyne – 8/10
If the play-making responsibilities in the first-half belonged to City’s Spanish magician then the second-half’s most definitely belonged to the ginger sorcerer’s apprentice. De Bruyne appears to be improving with every game he plays for City and though his first-half was littered with more dispossessions than he would have liked, the second-half was an almost perfect display of energy, vision and class, capped off with a truly sublime goal.
10 Sergio Agüero – 9/10
Kun’s disappointing start to the season has been thoroughly documented but if you’re going to hit form all of a sudden, scoring five goals in 20 minutes is absolutely the way to do it. His equalising goal from close range appeared to provide him with some much needed confidence and the two that followed right after half-time blasted away any possibility of the second-half being a struggle for City but it was his fourth goal that was the pick of the bunch as he opened up his body and curled a beautiful right-footed shot past Newcastle’s Tim Krul. The only disappointing thing about Agüero’s day was that his manager denied him the opportunity to grab a history-making Premier League double-hattrick but when you’ve got a player with his track record of injuries on your hands, it’s probably a good idea to quit while you’re ahead.
15 Jesús Navas – 7/10
Perhaps the most important thing about his introduction at half-time was that it allowed Kevin De Bruyne to move over to the left side where he appears to be more effective, but like in mid-week, Navas did a job when he came on and played his part in the win. Let’s face it, he couldn’t have done much worse than the man he replaced.
14 Wilfried Bony – Came on too late to mark
Was introduced to the action with the game dead and buried but looked hungry to make his mark on the afternoon and was unfortunate not to score. The Ronaldinho-esque piece of skill he pulled off was as surprising as it was brilliant.
72 Kelechi Iheanacho – Came on too late to mark
Good to see him given a run-out when his manager could easily have decided one striker was enough to see the game out. Showed some nice touches and was unfortunate not to score a great goal with his left foot.
Written by Dan Burke