Newcastle United vs. Manchester City @ St. James Park – January 12, 2014

The top of the table race in the Barclays Premier League has been an interesting one this season with 15 changes at the top.  Four teams (Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Arsenal) are battling it out.  Pressure is immense on each of the top sides to keep winning.  Manchester City has comes into the game in 3rd place overall, but if they win they would move into 1st place…for the time being.

Normally a game between Manchester City and Newcastle United would not cause much of a fuss as Newcastle was winless in the last 14 games versus Manchester City, but this is a different era.  Newcastle United is a stronger side than they have been in years.  They have 13 points more than the same stage last season.  Though they did come into this match on a bit of a downer as they had lost 2 in a row in the Premier League both by 1-0 scores.  Manchester City was going in the opposite direction as they came in on a 5 game winning streak.  No team in the Premier League had won 6 in a row this season.  City was going to do their best to accomplish this on the road.

On a chilly day in the Northeast of England, there was a nice energetic start by Newcastle to the game.  They know they are going to have to work hard to deny Manchester City space and seem willing to put in the effort.  Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero was still out with a calf injury so Edin Dzenko was in the starting 11 in his place alongside the robust Alvaro Negredo.

Despite the fact that Newcastle had the better start and earned the game’s first corner in the 5th minute, Manchester City opened the scoring.  It was easy as you like for Manchester City.  Midfielder David Silva created the entire thing from very little.  It started very innocently then he worked his magic and it was in the back of the net in the blink of an eye.  He demonstrated his great dribbling skills along the left side and then laid the ball into Aleksander Kolarov who quickly played a low cross right into the path of an oncoming Dzenko. Dzenko, who has taken advantage of the playing time he has been given, made no mistake and left footed the ball into the roof of the net.  Newcastle keeper Tim Krul had no chance.

After the goal Manchester City had become the counter attacking side.  In the 15th minute Manchester City had a corner that was taken by Silva.  It came back to him and the Spaniard deftly chipped it into the box.  Negredo managed to get his head on it.  It was a difficult chance, but he managed to almost loop it in.  The ball came down on top of the net.  Manchester City began to take over the match due to a number of Newcastle giveaways.

After a good 5-10 minutes of Manchester City domination Newcastle started getting back into rhythm.  Their form and confidence seemed back and they began to dictate the play.  French national Yohan Cabaye had a good try on goal in the 34th minute forcing Joe Hart into a good save.  This was the 5th start in a row for Hart, who seems to have won back the confidence of his coach Manuel Pellegrini and the starting position.

It was also in the 34th minute that a controversial call occurred that most likely changed outcome of the game.  That save by Hart resulted in a corner for Newcastle.  Cabaye took it and the ball came back to Newcastle captain Cheick Tioté.  Tioté nailed a shot from 20 yards out that blazed into the net without Hart really even moving.  The crowd erupted, but then referee Michael Jones noticed the linesman’s flag up.  After Jones consulted with him it was ruled that Yoan Gouffran interfered with the play.  Gouffran certainly did not touch the ball nor did he block Hart’s view of the shot.  A dubious call at best and Newcastle was robbed of tying up the game and Tioté deprived of what surely was to be one of the goals of the season.

Newcastle coach Alan Pardew was incensed as were the fans and Newcastle players.  Every call by Jones resulted in a cascade of boos reigning down upon him.  A couple of minutes later Moussa Sissoko was given a yellow card.  It was important that Newcastle players regain their focus or it would get totally out of hand.  Not much guidance in that respect was given to the Newcastle players by their coach as Pardew was taking out his anger on Pellegrini for some reason.  Cooler heads were not prevailing.

The 2nd half Newcastle kept pressing forward for the tying goal, but could not really manufacture any top quality chances.  There were good signs from Newcastle as they were putting a lot of pressure on Manchester City.  Unlike what we are used to from the high scoring Manchester City, they were reduced to just clearing the ball.  Newcastle players really got in the faces of the Manchester City players.

In the 75th minute Mapou Ynaga-Mbiwa got a yellow card for a reckless tackle on Samir Nasri.  Nasri was stretchered off the field with his left leg in a brace.  There was a lengthy stoppage while this was happening and it took a lot of wind out of the Newcastle sails.  James Milner came on for the injured Nasri.

In the 85th minute Fernandinho rang his header off the crossbar after a free kick taken by Silva.  There was no last minute magic by Newcastle.  In the 90 + 5th minute Manchester City scored their second courtesy of Negredo.  Sub Javi Garcia played it to sub Milner.  He played the ball through to Negredo, who was alone in on Krul.  Negredo got lucky as his first shot came off Krul right back to him.  He then pretty much walked the ball into the net.

It was a valiant effort by Newcastle but the composure of Manchester City won out.  Manchester City now was ahead of Chelsea to the top of table.

Game Stats:

-Referee:  Michael Jones

-Goals:  1st Half:

8th minute:  Manchester City – Edin Dzenko

2nd Half:

90 + 5 minutes:  Manchester City – Alvaro Negredo

-Shots on Goal:  Newcastle United – 5

Manchester City – 6

-Corners:  Newcastle United – 5

Manchester City – 6

-Attendance:  49,423

-Man of the Match:  Alvaro Negredo – Manchester City

-Final Score:  Newcastle United – 0

Manchester City – 2

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