Manchester City put a major dent in Newcastle’s hopes of staying above the relegation zone on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium. Four different Manchester City players but the ball past Elliot for a strong victory against Newcastle. Newcastle are a mere 3 points above the relegation zone at this point.
This match was a case of total dominance. Manchester City passed at a higher accuracy rate, create more chances, and possessed 63.5% of the ball. It’s no shocker that the only metric Newcastle weren’t outnumbered in was defensive clearances.
Neither side fielded anything too far from standard.
Newcastle’s major change was to shift Gutierrez to left back and not keeping him in an advanced position on the flank. The Argentine played remarkably well for being enrolled in a position that he is less than familiar with (although it is worth noting that Maradona played Gutierrez as a left back when he managed the Argentine national team). Gutierrez was 3 for 3 on tackles, and won 5 out of his 6 ground duels. He also created 2 chances, as many as any other Newcastle player.
Newcastle Sit Too Deep
A big issue for Newcastle was their deep defensive line. While it efficiently repelled Manchester City initially, they allowed far too much space in midfield.
Tevez started with the ball on the right flank, then played the ball back to Nasri. Nasri deftly beat Obertan and slithered between two more defenders to slide a square ball to Silva, who fired home. It was an aesthetic display of dribbling by Nasri, but moments like these will be produced when quality players are given even time to consistently attack.
Nasri’s creativity thrived in this match. He created a total of 6 chances, 3 of which were clear cut scoring opportunities. His overall passing was equally impressive. His general pass completion rate was 90%. The Frenchman’s passing breakdown makes this statistic even more impressive. Nearly half of his total passes were in the attacking third: 47%.
Newcastle simply allowed far too much time for Manchester City to use their creative outlets.
Newcastle’s Best Chance
As poorly as they played, Newcastle did manage to illustrate one way in which Manchester City’s defence is susceptible to long balls over the top of their defense.
After Sissoko played Gouffran down the left, Manchester City’s defense shifted to cover that flank, with Barry closing the ball down. The upshot of this is that the majority of their midfield’s coverage ended up slung along the left side of the pitch. Barry challenged well but Gouffran managed to bundled the ball back to Anita, who found a wealth of space where Toure and Barry had just vacated. This gave Anita the time to pick a long through ball to Cisse, who had cleverly posted up on the far side of Manchester City’s right flank. Clichy was caught well behind the rest of his defensive line and was forced to back pedal to keep up with Cisse’s run. Cisse found the space and the shot, but failed to finish.
It’s maybe a tad generous to call this a clear cut chance. It may be more accurately termed a strong half chance, but nonetheless, this was the moment where Newcastle looked most likely to score throughout the match. This entire play can be traced back to the moment when Barry, Toure, and Nasri all shift to the left side of the pitch, leaving too much space and time for Anita. Perhaps it’s a small chink in a glittering set of armor, but Manchester City did not cope at all well with this quick shift in Newcastle’s point of attack.
All in all, Newcastle were roundly beaten in nearly every aspect of the game. Their deep defensive line fell apart after the first half hour or so, and from that point onward, it was all Manchester City. With far too much time on the ball, Manchester City were able to wear down Newcastle through sustained pressure. Creative outlets were sparking against a Newcastle side that looked disciplined but far too withdrawn to break up attacks before they did damage.
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