Verdict: Manchester City 3 Newcastle United 1
Goals: Balotelli (pen) 41 Richards 44 Aguero (pen) 71 for City. Gosling 88 for Newcastle.
City eased to a record breaking eleventh win in twelve league games courtesy of two penalties either side of a Micah Richards strike. As expected, Newcastle proved to be well organised and dangerous on the counter, yet City were once again worthy winners.
Vincent Kompany returned to the defence and aside from one careless loss of possession the captain organised the team well. Joleon Lescott, buoyed by his excellent England performance, continued to step out and break up play whenever possible.
Both Clichy and Richards bombed forward, though it was Micah who took the headlines with his goal and by winning the second penalty with a run into the area.
Nigel de Jong was back to his best and it was noticeable how the gap between defence and midfield was reduced. It’s to be hoped he plays against Napoli.
When City were struggling to create openings in the first half hour, Mancini was able to utilise the positional flexibility of Yaya and Milner. Swapping them round enabled the Ivorian to make direct, powerful runs which Newcastle struggled to deal with. The opening penalty was won courtesy of his delicate touch, which enabled him to control the ball before shooting against Ryan Taylor’s arm.
Elsewhere in the midfield it was noticeable how Samir Nasri enjoyed a roaming role in the absence of Silva. With his increased involvement, the Frenchmen looked a far more dangerous proposition than when he’s stationed on the flank.
Nasri doesn’t always have the vision of Silva but his excellent control and intelligent movement showed how valuable he can be. Somehow he ended up as striker after Mancini took off Balotelli and Aguero, and this looked a step too far forward.
Once again City had eased themselves into the game, and were able to follow up the opening goal with a quick second. This enabled Mancini’s side to dictate the pace of the game despite Newcastle’s urgency.
That said, it could have been a different story had Newcastle taken their chances at 0-0 and 2-0. There was a slight laxness in some of our play and this will need to be ironed out for the trips to Naples and Anfield.
Fortunately we have the quality of players to step up when required. Mancini played a strong side against Newcastle and it will be interesting to see who is rotated for the key game in Naples. One thing’s for sure, we won’t be going into it short of confidence.