Manchester City maintained pressure on league leaders Liverpool following yet another convincing 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at the Etihad Stadium on Boxing Day.
The Citizens were simply the more dominant side in this game, following their usual routine of dominating possession and creating chances. An early breakthrough from Ilkay Gundogan, in fact, floated the idea of a long evening for a Newcastle United defence that struggled to cope with the pressure.
However, the Magpies admirably showed a lot of discipline after the goal. They played with patience and waited for the City defenders to make a mistake. And while Steve Bruce’s men didn’t exactly cause any problems, a slender one-goal lead for Manchester City at half-time certainly kept them in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Tyneside outfit, the hosts eventually scored their second goal early in the second half through Ferran Torres. It was enough to seal the victory for Pep Guardiola’s men and here, at the Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at their performances over Newcastle this weekend.
Ederson didn’t have too much to do in this game as Newcastle United struggled to create any real opening. As such, Joelinton’s sharp effort and another long-range attempt late in the game were the only two saves the Brazilian really had to make this evening. The Man City ‘keeper continues his excellent clean sheet record this season.
John Stones: 7.5/10
John Stones has enjoyed an impressive return to prominence in recent weeks and that was evident in his performance against Newcastle United. The ex-Everton centre-back made a host of strong, confident challenges to stop the NUFC attackers in their path. He also looked composed in possession, offering some useful forward balls.
Ruben Dias John Stones
Keeping clean sheets pic.twitter.com/xDJob9NGly
— Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) December 26, 2020
Ruben Dias: 7.5/10
Ruben Dias marshalled the Manchester City backline with his imposing presence at the back. His physical and aerial prowess was crucial in preventing Joelinton from making any real impact in this game. In addition, the centre-back was a major threat from set-pieces as well.
Nathan Ake: 7.5/10
Nathan Ake enjoyed an excellent game in the left-back/left centre-back hybrid role. He looked composed in possession while also showing remarkable maturity and positional sense. The Dutchman’s defensive contributions were thus important in helping the home side keeping yet another clean sheet.
Joao Cancelo: 10/10
Joao Cancelo was by far the best performer for Manchester City in their win over Newcastle. Although starting as a right-back on paper, the Portuguese international operated in a more central role. He offered the numerical superiority in the middle of the park that helped the hosts dominate the game and evade the opposition press.
However, what made Cancelo such an influential figure in his game is his ability to thread key passes in the final third. In fact, it was he who released Raheem Sterling in behind the backline for the first goal. He followed it up by providing a host of other key passes throughout the course of the game.
— Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) December 26, 2020
Rodri was deployed in the deepest role in midfield. As usual, the ex-Atletico Madrid man screened the backline, using his ability to read the game to good effect. He ventured forward as well, whenever it was necessary though a slight niggle appeared to force Guardiola into taking him off just before the hour-mark.
Ilkay Gundogan: 9/10
Gundogan was one of Manchester City’s better performers in this convincing win over Newcastle. Operating in the number eight role, the German covered a large area in midfield, orchestrating the game with his majestic passing and movements. It made life difficult for the opposition who were completely pegged back.
A goal during the early stages of the game was an ideal reward for the ex-Borussia Dortmund star, who was bested only by Cancelo in terms of performances.
Kevin De Bruyne: 8/10
Kevin De Bruyne might not have have been as influential as the likes of Gundogan and Cancelo. But, the playmaker was once again critical to Man City’s overall chance creation as he produced a plethora of exquisite through passes that completely broke the shackles of the Newcastle backline.
Bernardo Silva: 7/10
Bernardo Silva had a rather quiet game compared to his teammate. However, the ex-Benfica superstar still deserves for his positioning sense and versatility as he offered his teammates an additional passing option in the final third.
Raheem Sterling: 8.5/10
If Cancelo wasn’t enough, it was Sterling who made life even more miserable for the Newcastle defenders. His exquisite footwork, combined with his composure, elegance and technical prowess was simply too much for the opposition. It was evident when he expertly provided the pass to Gundogan for the first goal.
Raheem Sterling vs Newcastle United pic.twitter.com/z3xMqBsn81
— Hamad (@HMDComps) December 26, 2020
Ferran Torres: 8/10
In the absence of Gabriel Jesus and with Sergio Aguero lacking full fitness, Ferran Torres deserves credit for stepping up to the plate. The youngster’s offensive positioning, in particular, was simply remarkable and a testament to Guardiola’s juego de posicion tactical setup as he deservedly scored Man City’s second goal of the night.
Fernandinho came on for Rodri early in the second half. His experience, leadership and strength added further solidity and balance in the Manchester City midfield.
Sergio Aguero: 7.5/10
Sergio Aguero came on for Torres during the final phase of the game and he instantly made an impact. His ability to sniff scoring opportunities almost saw him win a penalty and thereby score the third, but it wasn’t to be.
Phil Foden: N/A
A late replacement for Gundogan. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.