5 Reasons Win over Newcastle United Showed Manchester City Are Back
After a poor few weeks for Manchester City in which they finished at the bottom of their Champions League group and lost the derby to rivals United in the Premier League, Roberto Mancini's men got back to winning ways against Newcastle United.
The victory was a significant one, not just for the points but also for the manner and they style of play, which showed City were back to their confident best at times.
Sergio Aguero scored the opening goal early on before Javi Garcia doubled the lead from a corner before the half-time break. A good header from Demba Ba looked like it would open the game back up, but City wrapped up the win with a third from Yaya Toure.
Here are five reasons why this result showed Manchester City are getting back to their best and are still in the title race.
1. Hard Work and Good Performances from Key Members in the Team
Last week's defeat to Manchester United saw some City players come in for criticism, in particular, Samir Nasri.
The Telegraph went so far as to say the French playmaker would be left out of the Newcastle game for his lacklustre display and for being partly at fault for United's late winner.
Instead, Nasri was one of the most enterprising and energetic performers for the away team as they hit Newcastle with plenty of attacking variety in the first half. Nasri was involved in some terrific build-up play until he was substituted with injury in the 37th minute.
Joe Hart also made several good saves after he might have done better against United last week, while Yaya Toure at times looked at his uncompromising best in midfield.
Overall, it was a much improved team effort from City.
2. Top Quality Final Third Play
Some of the interplay between City's front quartet against Newcastle was simply breathtaking.
Several times a piece of combination play between David Silva and Carlos Tevez, or Silva and Nasri, would open up the Magpies in the space of two or three passes when there appeared to be few spaces to operate in.
The full-backs Davide Santon and Danny Simpson were given something of a positional lesson at times, and always Sergio Aguero was waiting in the middle to get on the end of chances.
His simple tap-in to open the scoring was straightforward enough, but the two passes which came before it were top quality in terms of both vision and execution.
Samir Nasri deserves praise for his unselfishness in squaring when one-on-one with Tim Krul, but Yaya Toure's through-ball to find Nasri in the first place was a thing of beauty.
City fans can only be left wondering where this was last week.
3. Defensive Solidity as Newcastle Tried to Get Back in the Game
After Demba Ba's fine header made the scoreline 2-1 just five minutes or so after half-time, the home team had their best spell of the game as they looked to press for an equaliser.
Though Newcastle were certainly on top at that stage and fashioned several chances to shoot, Manchester City deserve good credit for holding firm and preventing a second goal going in.
Mancini changed the shape of the team for a spell, going to three at the back until he replaced Kolarov—himself an earlier sub—with Dzeko, and City eventually rode out the storm.
Knowing that Newcastle would have to press more later in the game for an equaliser, they were happy to be comfortable in possession without being too adventurous. But when the Magpies committed numbers forward later, City were able to break at pace.
The game could have been wrapped up before Toure's late third, but some fine saves by Hart and good defending by Matija Nastasic, in particular, were big plus points for Mancini.
4. Good Run of Fixtures Ahead
Following City's win and Manchester United taking three points off Sunderland later in the day, the gap at the top remains at six points.
With still more than half the season remaining, it is far from an insurmountable gap that City must close to retain their title. But first of all they must focus on picking up wins on a regular basis.
The games close together over Christmas will test the fringe players of Mancini's squad. But as they face some relatively favourable fixtures, the manager will hope to come through with as close to maximum points as possible.
The away fixtures will be tough in their own way, and Norwich have already beaten some good sides this season. But City will hope for nine points from those games.
5. Aguero Back on the Scoresheet
For all the quality and importance of the likes of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure, one man who City must keep fit and in form is striker Sergio Aguero.
The Argentine scored 23 times in the Premier League this season, and his strike against Newcastle made it six for this campaign.
Crucially, though, it brought an end to his recent barren run whereby Aguero had gone five matches without registering a strike. His last goal came against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and he had not scored in the Premiership for almost a month.
Aguero is one of the league's top strikers, and City's improved performance in the final third of the pitch was not only important for the three points against Newcastle, but also because it has gotten their No. 16 firing again.