Newcastle United suffered their first defeat in 2018 after losing 3-1 to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
After being handed their first defeat of the season from Liverpool last weekend, Manchester City returned to their winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United on Saturday. The Magpies did a lot of ball-chasing and were heavily dependent on the counter attack to get forward, as Manchester City dominated every aspect of the game.
This was an expected loss for Newcastle United, as the Magpies traveled to Manchester as major underdogs hoping to avoid significant damage to their goal differential. While most of the scoring opportunities came from the home side, Newcastle did have some good moments in the match as well. Here are five things we learned from Saturday’s fixture.
The tactic of using the counter attack as the primary method of moving the ball forward was expected. The main difference this time around was that Rafa Benitez did not park the bus and had a few more bodies up the field with Joselu. The Magpies had a few opportunities to make their counter attacks more effective, but a combination of poor passing and a quick closing defense from Manchester City led to many wasted chances.
Rafa Benitez’s decision to play three defensive midfielders behind Christian Atsu, Joselu and Jacob Murphy also contributed to the slow pace Newcastle United had when attempting to attack. Benitez should have left either Mohamed Diame or Jonjo Shelvey on the bench for this match, as their lack of speed weakened some sequences.
The young captain was occupied for 90 minutes, with the Manchester City attack creating dangerous scoring opportunities every few minutes. The Newcastle defender played a key role in only limiting City to three goals as he intercepted multiple through-balls and managed to block several shots from Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne.
Although the Magpies suffered a 3-1 defeat and were outplayed in almost every category, Jamaal Lascelles continued to motivate his team-mates and did all he could as an individual to protect the goal. This positive performance against a top-quality side should also prove to Gareth Southgate that Lascelles deserves a spot on the England national team this summer.
One key problem that was observed multiple times during the match was the excessive dribbling of some individuals in defense and midfield. Manchester City has the fastest squad in the Premier League, and this enabled the Sky Blues to apply high pressure against Newcastle players.
The main difference between Manchester City and Newcastle United was not the quality of the players on the pitch, but rather the disparity in football intelligence. Some of the younger players on Newcastle’s roster need to improve their decision-making when the ball is at their feet.
The talented winger did not have an impact in the first half of the match on Saturday, but he showcased his skills and speed in the second half. Jacob Murphy may be young, but he has the ability to take on defenders with confidence.
In addition to his brilliant breakaway to score a nice chip goal with two defenders closing in, on multiple occasions Murphy was able to run past defenders and cut in towards the middle of the pitch to thread the ball to his team-mates in the box. It will be interesting to see if Benitez selects Murphy over Matt Ritchie again as the Magpies take on Burnley in their next Premier League fixture.
Newcastle United should be forever grateful to their loyal and lively supporters for always backing the club in large numbers away from home. The Toon Army purchased over 3,000 tickets to attend the match at the Etihad Stadium, as the supporters from the North East overshadowed the home crowd with their chants.
Despite the collapse of takeover discussions between Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley earlier in the week, the Toon Army refused to turn their back on the Magpies.