It was a night to forget as Manchester City lost a remarkable 23-second lead to lose 2-1 to Newcastle United on a cold January night on Tyneside. In a manner all too familiar to Blues this season, Pep Guardiola’s men looked devoid of ideas when placed on the back foot, unable to dig deep to find answers to Newcastle’s defensive solidity.
The signs had seemed promising; a 22 game unbeaten streak against a makeshift opposition; an unbelievable number of goals going into the game; the return of the strongest midfield. Yet it was all for nought, with nothing to say for Guardiola’s Blues but misplaced passes, an absence of ideas, and an agonising complacency.
Here’s how the players fared in our player ratings:
Ederson – 6
The Brazilian had looked his reptilian self when tasked with his typical passing duties, but ultimately had little hope of preventing either of the goals. A mess in the box for the first, diving the right way for the second. Out of his hands in more ways than one.
Danilo – 3
Unlike his goalkeeping compatriot, much of the blame for City’s abjectness tonight could be placed at the feet of Danilo. A poor touch is forgivable enough, but when you struggle to keep count of the number of mistakes made, it doesn’t bode well for a player. Though close to exemplary in recent matches, Danilo was well and truly exposed as the makeshift left back he is on the night, inhibiting play going forward as much as he was culpable for mistakes defensively. The greater the need for a response, the more evident his performance became.
Aymeric Laporte – 5
It might start to be a sign when your most composed defender starts to make small errors in the opening minutes of a game. Though not on the scale of Danilo, Laporte was without his usual quality shine against Newcastle, finding himself subject to the same malaise that seemed to encompass the entire squad. He let easy balls bounce before him whilst misjudging passes by the smallest amount. These are margins you simply cannot afford if you are trying to lock a game down. Given his growing importance, it will be a test of his personal strength to see how he responds.
John Stones – 6
The only defender to emerge largely unscathed, Stones was largely blameless bar a frustrating tendency to hesitate when the ball was begging to be driven forward. Indeed, the Englishman managed a 95% pass completion in the face of a bullish Salomón Rondón, whilst being positionally sound on the whole. The concern lies with his lack of bite. For a player some have touted as a potential future captain, he would do well to look to Vincent Kompany and his ferocity.
Kyle Walker – 4
Find me a player who continually frustrates more than Kyle Walker. I dare you. True, he was not as woeful as Danilo on the night, but Walker is becoming brain-dead as a force of habit. Time and time again, we expect him to enjoy a mistake-free game, only for him to repeat avoidable errors once more. Couple that with being all-too comfortably numb in the final third, and it is looking more and more likely that City’s big money investment on him will be proven to be short-term.
Fernandinho – 5
There are very few games these days where you can say Fernandinho has had a poor game. Perhaps he was due one, perhaps it was a result of a litany of general mistakes across the pitch. Whatever the case, the Brazilian blockbuster was off the boil tonight. Overstretched as he tried to mop up the leaking holes spouting before him, his game was not as miserable as this rating would suggest. Or at least it wasn’t until he gave away the decisive penalty. Here the poster boy of City’s complacency, he was blissfully unaware of Newcastle’s players as he turned directly into traffic to gift the Magpies with the crucial chance to seal the three points.
Kevin De Bruyne – 6
If Saturday’s game against Burnley had given us the tantalising taste of De Bruyne’s best, then Tuesday proved we had tested the waters too soon. The go-to player in low-block situations, it looked a game or two too soon for the Belgian maestro to be the main man, unable to find his rhythm or his guile that often prove the difference. Signs showed that he was not up to his own expectations, as he grew more careless as his lack of fitness began to show. Unlucky to not assist a second goal, unfairly yellow carded on behalf of short-sighted refereeing. He earns a slight boost if only for his show of fight.
David Silva – 5
Unfortunately, El Mago’s box of tricks was empty tonight. It is incredibly rare that David Silva is truly anonymous in a City shirt, yet that was exactly the case at St James’ Park. A victim of that pass just too short, that touch just too heavy. A performance that shall remain a rarity.
Leroy Sané – 5
It’s all too easy to point the finger at Sané when things just don’t happen for City. For my two cents, the sheer height of the German’s potential makes any absences look far worse, especially when he possesses such electricity to create opportunities from next to nothing. It is true that if Sané is going to be close to the fabled echelons of ‘world class’, then he needs to find ways of becoming more involved in games such as these, where his team is crying out for ideas. All that said, he occupied the right spaces in the first half and tracked back well. He was just without the spark that many will have looked to him for.
Sergio Agüero – 6.5 (Man of the Match)
I had to pick a Man of the Match and Sergio only just clinches it on account of continuing his own personal record against Newcastle in record fashion. 15 goals in 13 games against one side deserves at least some recognition, regardless of the final score. To put City ahead in a seasonal Premier League record is also encouraging, as was the Argentine’s willingness to get back and defend in the first half, even being spotted as far back as his own corner flag. Lived off of scraps for the remainder of his minutes though, and was unable to find the back of the net again besides a rightly disallowed from Kevin De Bruyne’s early free kick.
Raheem Sterling – 4.5
Stranded out on the wings and earning a yellow card for a rash challenge, Sterling hardly had a memorable night. Despite doing well to engineer City’s only goal, the young Englishman was just as culpable for missing a habitual Leroy Sané cross, missing the ball by mere centimetres as it flashed across the face of goal. Similar to Sané, he could do little to change the state of affairs.
Bernardo Silva – 5
Given the sloppy nature of City’s play throughout the match, introducing a player nicknamed “Bubblegum” for how the ball sticks to his feet might have been the most logical manoeuvre. There was little reflection of that title in action though, as Bernardo let both his play and his standards slip as he strapped in as a passenger for the duration of his minutes. The fact he came on at the expense of De Bruyne, City’s most animated player, lingers too.
Jesus – 5
Incredibly hard done by not to start the match given his scintillating form, Jesus enjoyed similar fortunes to Bernardo in being unable to change the course of the game once introduced. Coming on for Leroy Sané, Jesus appeared misplaced when out on the wing, and then wholly ineffective when hoping for an errant ball to fall to him otherwise.
Gundogan – N/A
No time to mark.
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