Oh, how Manchester City love it when Newcastle United come to town. Fans of the Toon have become accustomed to leaving the Etihad having witnessed their team take a hammering, but even by the usual standards of this fixture, this tie was something special.
#mcfc have won their last 11 Premier League matches against Newcastle – scoring 32 times and conceding just five.
— BlueMoon Podcast (@BlueMoonPodcast) October 3, 2015
For City, the visit of the Geordies offered a chance to get their Premier League season back on track after two consecutive defeats, those coming against West Ham and Tottenham respectively. The midweek victory at Mönchengladbach had done a little to restore confidence, but dropped points here would be seen as nothing short of a disaster, not least because of the standard of opposition.
Steve McLaren’s Newcastle outfit have made a truly dreadful start to the season and look set fair for a season long struggle against relegation. They came to Manchester with only two points to show for their efforts thus far; that those points were earned against Manchester United and Chelsea did provide some reason for caution. Indeed, there was a possibility that they would have been buoyed by last week’s 2-2 draw with the reigning Champions. Having lead that game 2-0, they would surely be confident of at least hurting City.
The First Half
The opening 45 minutes did provide further reason for the Magpies to feel they could take something from the game. They opened the scoring after 18 minutes when Aleksander Mitrović headed past Joe Hart. The space he was allowed was dreadful from City’s point of view; the leadership of Vincent Kompany is sorely missed by the Blues back line.
Indeed, things could have been very different if Newcastle been slightly more clinical in the first half. In the 26th minute, £13m striker Mitrović found himself in acres of space once more; this time, Joe Hart was in fine form to deny his opponent. It’s been a stellar week for England’s number one – he was pivotal as his side brought three points home from Germany on Wednesday and he kept his team in the game again here. He wasn’t as busy this time around, but he was just as important.
City did have plenty of the ball and, for all of their faults at the back, they were probing for an equaliser. Kevin De Bruyne was growing in influence with every passing moment. In the 42nd minute, Sergio Agüero grabbed a much-needed equaliser for the home side with a brave header; it was his first goal in open play since he scored against Chelsea in the second game of the season. After a difficult few weeks for the Argentine striker, this was just the boost he needed.
The Second Half
One man will grab the headlines, owing to the fact that he also grabbed himself a further four goals, but the second half demolition represented a vastly improved team effort.
Only four minutes of the half had passed when Kün was played in by Silva. The hesitancy of recent weeks had clearly dissipated as he dispatched a left-foot shot beyond Tim Krul to give City the lead, albeit with the help of a fortunate deflection.
There was no fortune about what would come next. City added four more fantastic goals, with the rejuvenated Agüero grabbing three of them to complete a personal haul of five for the afternoon. The other came via an acrobatic effort from Kevin De Bruyne; the £54m Belgian can hardly stop scoring at the moment. This was a goal of sheer class, scored from a difficult angle with his back to goal, using just one touch.
There is no doubt that in the man acquired from Wolfsburg, Manuel Pellegrini’s outfit have found themselves a bargain. His positional awareness, touch and passing ability defy belief. His desire to receive the ball and take on the creative responsibility is immediately noticeable and his industry is phenomenal.
Some credit must go to Jesús Navas. The Spaniard is not always a favourite amongst City fans and has come in for a inordinate amount of stick in recent weeks, but he played his part today. He replaced Raheem Sterling at half time; the England man had been struggling somewhat to exert his influence on proceedings. Navas had no such issues. He stretched play and helped create space that his more illustrious colleagues so ruthlessly exploited.
All-in-all, this was a magnificent afternoon for Manuel Pellegrini and his charges. Twice this week, they have provided evidence that they can bounce back after falling behind. That was crucial after their mental state was widely questioned following last weeks’ capitulation at White Hart Lane.
In the opening stages the defence was shambolic, but the intensity and quality of world-class individuals was simply too much for Newcastle in the second half. Put simply, City blitzed the opposition.
What’s more, the Blues were entertaining. The verve and swagger of Champions is back. This is the perfect way to head into the international break.
Written by Richard Burns