Manchester City 4-0 Newcastle United: Five talking points
Manchester City reduced cross-town rivals Manchester United‘s lead at the top back to 15 points, from the temporary 18 that had been established after their win against Sunderland, with a comfortable 4 – 0 win over Newcastle. Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero made appearances at the Etihad after injury lay-offs, and Joleon Lescott got a full game under his belt as well. All in all, a good run out for the reigning champions ahead of next week’s clash against champions-elect, United. Here are five talking points from the game:
1. Second place stays secure
At the start of this weekend’s round of fixtures, there were question marks over City’s ability to retain second spot after their loss against Everton last weekend left them just 4 points clear of third placed Chelsea. A convincing win against Newcastle, combined with Chelsea’s unexpected loss at Southampton will go a long way towards laying those concerns to rest. A fifteen point lead is something one doubts City will be able to overturn at the top of the table, but second spot now seems slightly more secure with their closest rivals being five points behind, with an extra game played.
2. Mancini gets it right
Roberto Mancini kept his squad tinkering to a minimum for this game, much to the relief of City fans, and returned to the “old school” starting eleven with which they won the title last season. Kompany and Lescott started as the central defensive pairing, while Yaya Toure returned to the starting line-up and put in one of his most impressive displays of the season. Sergio Aguero also made an appearance for the final twenty minutes or so of the game, and fans will definitely be pleased to see some sharp play from David Silva ahead of the Manchester derby.
3. The return of Kompany
Club captain Vincent Kompany returned to action for the Citizens after a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to injury. In spite of all the comments from Mancini about being upset at the Belgian being included in the national side over the international break, it was a calm, composed performance from the defender, who also grabbed a goal for himself as a bonus. His effect on the City defence’s organisation was also noticeable, as a defence which has been wayward this season stood up well to everything Newcastle threw at them. Kompany himself was instrumental in keeping the likes of Gouffran quiet, and will be hoping for a repeat of his winning goal against United from last season.
4. Relegation looms over Newcastle
While City secured their position near the top of the table, Newcastle slipped even closer to the bottom with a performance which showed spine only over the opening ten minutes of the second half. They now sit just 3 points clear of the relegation zone with Wigan and Aston Villa both having games in hand over them. The departure of Ba seems to have really taken the sting out of the Newcastle attack, and even with their plethora of French recruits, one finds it difficult to be sure that they aren’t on their way out of English football’s top division.
5. No Krul, no problem?
With Tim Krul still sidelined with an ankle injury, Rob Elliot kept his place in goal for the Toons. While he did concede four goals, the last of which he should probably have stopped, he also pulled off some brilliant saves to keep his team in the game over the opening forty minutes of the game. While the statistics show just five saves made, his contribution in stopping further embarrassment for Newcastle was definitely more valuable. Yet, when Tim Krul returns, one can be fairly certain that Elliot will have to make way for the Dutch custodian.