Pep Guardiola will be ruing the errors of his Manchester City side once again this afternoon as they drop points – this time in the north east. Despite going ahead twice against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, the hosts pegged City back and snatched a point with a late screamer from former Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey.
Manchester City went to Newcastle today knowing they needed to win – and fully expecting to win too. It started in relatively regular fashion for the champions as they immediately took control of possession. They passed the ball around plenty, but looked devoid of anything in the way of ideas as they looked to get around the low block employed by Bruce’s side.
After 22 minutes, Raheem Sterling and David Silva managed to put City into the lead with a bit of sheer quality. Sterling bundled his way into the area with the ball at his feet – dodging tackles. Eventually, Newcastle managed to get the ball from him but couldn’t clear it. The ball fell to David Silva who picked out Sterling with a delicious back-heel, laying it on a plate for the Englishman – who made no mistake in beating Dubravka to his left.
However, that lead didn’t last for very long at all. Just three minutes later, Miguel Almiron latched onto a pass from Jetro Willems to the left of the City area before playing it back into the path of the Dutchman. Willems set himself and hammered an effort with his right foot into bottom corner, leaving Ederson with no chance. That is Willems’ second goal of the season but crucially, Almiron’s first NUFC assist – much to the delight of every Geordie on the planet.
The second half went much the way the first did, as City controlled the possession and Newcastle defended deep and disciplined. The visitors really struggled to find any way through using their normal short, sharp and slick passing attack. In the end, it took an absolute thunderbolt from Kevin de Bruyne, who was just about the only bright spark for City today, to break through the NUFC defence. From around 25 yards out, the Belgian controlled the ball with his chest and hammered a vicious volley past Martin Dubravka, who did well just to get a hand to it.
Again though, City couldn’t hang onto their lead as their defensive frailties prevailed once more. Miguel Almiron was again involved as he skipped by Fernandinho on the right side of the area, only to be brought down be the Brazilian – who was lucky not to see a second yellow. He wouldn’t have felt very lucky two minutes later though as Christian Atsu laid the free-kick to Shelvey at the edge of the area who curled an absolute peach into the back of the net – sealing a thoroughly deserved point for the magpies.
The dropped points means that if Liverpool can pick up the win in their game against Brighton this afternoon, they will move 11 points clear of the Champions – moving them even further into the driving seat of the Premier League title race.
Star Player: There were plenty of standout performances from an NUFC perspective today, but the star of the show for me was Miguel Almiron. Coming off the back of a stinker at Villa Park on Monday, the Paraguayan brushed it off and delivered an outstanding 90 minutes today. His defensive covering runs were excellent, his counter-attacking bursts terrifying and his work rate astounding. To top it all of, he managed to bag his first assist for the Mags – and you could see just how much it meant to him.