Same tactics produce same scoreline for Newcastle United at Manchester City
Newcastle United and manager Rafa Benitez knew that earning a result at Manchester City on Saturday would be difficult, and the club ultimately utilised the same tactics from last week versus Chelsea. A defensive approach with five defenders was meant to limit the damage from the home side, and in some ways that did happen.
However, it was not enough in a 2-1 loss for the Magpies. Newcastle now has one point from their opening four Premier League matches, and they simply didn’t have the quality to get in front of their opponent. Despite the final score, there were several positives in the fixture compared to the match against Chelsea.
Overall, United’s goal-differential could be an important aspect this season, and losing by five goals is not going to help that. Benitez kept the game close and, if it were not for a long-range blast courtesy of Kyle Walker, may have walked out of the Etihad Stadium with a point.
Salomòn Rondón was superb in his hold-up play but was not seeing enough support from team-mates in the final third. Defender DeAndre Yedlin scored his first Premier League goal to level the match in the 30th minute.
Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka was again spectacular for the Toon, putting himself in the right position to make crucial stops. One wild sequence saw him make three consecutive saves before the ball was cleared out of the penalty area.
City finished the game with almost 80 per cent possession, similar numbers that were seen for Chelsea when they visited St. James’ Park last weekend. Benitez’s system for the two fixtures is fine with giving away possession, as long as dangerous opportunities are limited.
Newcastle aims for their first win of 2018-19 when they host Arsenal on September 15 after the international break.
A tough start
It should certainly be noted that United was not exactly dealt an easy start to the campaign, with multiple tough matches seen immediately. Losses to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City are not necessarily unexpected results.
Upcoming fixtures against the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Brighton and Southampton have an added importance following Newcastle’s slow beginning, and Benitez must have his players ready to deliver in the near future.
Newcastle United have struggled in the season’s opening weeks, failing to secure a victory in any of their first four matches. But there have been positive signs, and fans will be hoping that the positivity soon morphs into wins.