Five Things We Learned: Newcastle United 3-3 Manchester City (Premier League)
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Manchester City’s flawless start to the new season came to an end after they dropped points against Newcastle United in a dramatic 3-3 draw at St. James’ Park.
After Ilkay Gundogan fired the visitors into an early lead, the Magpies bit back in lionhearted fashion going two goals to the good by the 39th minute, courtesy of Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson.
Things went from bad to worse for Manchester City, as Kieran Trippier struck a superb free-kick to give the hosts a two-goal lead.
However, a pair of quick-fire strikes from Erling Haaland and Bernardo Silva earned the Sky Blues a deserved comeback, as the spoils were shared in an instant Premier League classic.
After what was undoubtedly the game of the season so far, here are the five things we learned!
Player Ratings: Newcastle 3-3 #ManCity, By: @edwardburnettt— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 21, 2022
Erling Haaland silencing early-season critics
Remember the barrage of questions thrown at Erling Haaland about how he may not fit into Manchester City’s style after a rare off day in the FA Community Shield?
In the Norwegian’s first three games in the Premier League for Manchester City, particularly against Newcastle, he has had all the answers and more.
To those that were sceptical about the 22 year-old’s link-up play, his bullying of Joe Willock and impeccable outside-the-boot pass to Kevin De Bruyne in the first half was as textbook a piece of centre-forward play that you are likely to come across.
Erling Haaland did that on a number of occasions against the Magpies, as he dropped in between the lines and kept things ticking with his excellent one-touch passing that elevated the Sky Blues’ threat in transition.
Humble pie was in store for those that questioned the youngster’s comfortability on the ball, as they witnessed him take a sublime first touch to ghost pass Fabian Schär and then, Sven Botman before his venomous strike was struck on to the post by an in-form Nick Pope.
While his off-the-ball movement, finishing and superhuman upper body strength was never in doubt to the masses, the wonderkid ticked every aforementioned box, before all his good work was eventually rewarded with an instinctive volley into the back of the net.
Three goals, one assist and three stellar performances later, Erling Haaland is making a mockery of all the doubts.
What were Manchester City’s problems down to?
First things first, a chunk of the visitors’ woes were simply down to a number of unrecognisably poor individual showings.
Up against the virtually unplayable Allan Saint-Maximin, it isn’t controversial to suggest that Kyle Walker possibly endured his worst ever game in a Manchester City shirt.
The twinkle-toed Frenchman is one of the finest dribblers on the planet and on a rare off day for arguably the best defensive full-back in the world, the former run the latter ragged.
John Stones’ return to the starting XI was also not a welcome one, due to the presence of the electric winger.
The Geordie hero’s blend of quick feet, two-footedness and searing pace meant the England international was constantly on the back-foot throughout the contest.
The typically flawless Rodri was another player that struggled with the end-to-end nature of the contest, as he was uncharacteristically second best in a number of individual duels.
A string of off days were alleviated by the fact that Manchester City’s 2-3 setup in build-up, which worked wonders against West Ham was torn to shreds by Newcastle.
As a pair of Manchester City’s most technically secure members in Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan were operating in an advanced role, a trio of Kyle Walker, Rodri and Joao Cancelo endured a torrid time in the middle of the park, as they were the targets of a certified pressing masterclass.
Add the Sky Blues being surprisingly lax in possession that played into the hosts’ transition-centric plans and Manchester City came unstuck for large periods of the clash.
Kevin De Bruyne: The Main Man
Despite Erling Haaland’s arrival understandably being the story of the summer, Kevin De Bruyne has already proven this season that he remains the protagonist of this incredible Manchester City side.
While the rest of his teammates can also turn a game on its head, your money would be the safest by putting it on the midfield maestro.
That leads us on to the Belgian playmaker’s exquisite assist for Bernardo Silva, which bordered on sorcery straight from his wand of a right peg.
To picture that pass in the first place is bafflingly incredible enough, let alone execute it, especially to set up Manchester City’s much-needed equaliser.
Had it not been for a proactive Nick Pope who rushed out to stop Erling Haaland in his tracks, the 31 year-old’s unpicking of the Newcastle defence with a stunning through ball yet again would have deservedly been responsible for the winner.
The former Wolfsburg superstar’s unrivalled eye for a pass was a constant thorn in the Magpies’ side, as he kept breaking the lines and finding solutions in situations where the rest did not have answers.
As per usual, De Bruyne’s phenomenal ball carrying in transition made him virtually invincible, to the extent that it took Kieran Trippier to make a horror red card challenge, which was controversially overturned just to keep pace with the City vice-captain.
Teams would rather hack Kevin De Bruyne down than deal with the inevitability that he brings above every other player in the Premier League, let alone in sky blue.
.@KevinDeBruyne 🤝 @BernardoCSilva #ManCity pic.twitter.com/ZfUyN5NvcC— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 21, 2022
The Kieran Trippier challenge should be a red card going forward
Let’s get some things out of the way. With Kieran Trippier’s challenge not being studs up, with the side of his boot instead stopping Kevin De Bruyne in his tracks, one can understand why it isn’t standard procedure to carry out a sending off. Additionally, the Newcastle skipper should be given the benefit of the doubt for having meant no malice.
However, the 31 year-old’s controversial attempt at a tactical foul needs to be used as an example to be deemed a straight red card in the future.
Ultimately, if a player has no intention to regain possession and makes a challenge knee-high, that is the very definition of dangerous play.
The part of the boot that struck De Bruyne is inconsequential, as a challenge as reckless as the La Liga champion’s was capable of potentially putting an abrupt end to the in-form midfielder’s campaign.
Moving forward, the officials need to come together to hand out a deserved punishment in order to incite much-needed change in an admittedly grey area of the sport.
Yellow card. The correct decision? pic.twitter.com/gT9hzpoutt— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 21, 2022
The Aston Villa comeback has added a newfound steel to this City side
While some perceive the aforementioned statement as hyperbolic, Pep Guardiola’s post-match comments were telling.
“After what happened against Aston Villa – in five minutes, we scored three goals – I can rely on everything, so no problem.”
Much like Real Madrid’s habit of doing the impossible in Europe, Manchester City’s ‘93:20’ moment and more recently, their cinematic comeback against Aston Villa last term may be ingrained in the side’s core going forward.
Going away to Newcastle is nearly akin to a battle against the ‘Big Six’ nowadays, especially when they plan to put on a show, as they did against City for a majority of the contest.
With the score pegged at 3-1, the imposing St. James’ Park faithful willing their side on and Eddie Howe’s side playing a tireless brand of football, the Sky Blues’ unshakeable belief to come back from two goals down to level the scores was commendable to say the least.
Ultimately, not one player in the Manchester City squad alongside Pep Guardiola was at the club during Sergio Agüero’s last-gasp strike against QPR in 2012.
However, a chunk of this bunch alongside their mastermind of a coach made history against Aston Villa and are still digesting the fact that they remain a crucial cog of one of the greatest comebacks in the modern era.
Overcoming that barrier to become a part of footballing folklore, this side are likely to revert to type in the ideal manner when their backs are against the wall more often that not, as they did against the Magpies.
Full-Time: It ends level at St. James' Park. 🤯 pic.twitter.com/yg6ehgBY6G— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) August 21, 2022
Featured Image Credit: Allstar Picture Library Ltd / Alamy
Topics: Newcastle United, Manchester City, Premier League, Football