Newcastle vs. Manchester City: Winners and Losers from St. James' Park
Manchester City opened their 2014-15 Premier League season, and with it the defence of their crown, with a hard-fought victory over Newcastle United at St. James' Park.
Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero in either half sealed a 2-0 win, but the result was far from certain for long periods as the Magpies pushed for a route back in.
Here are three winners and three losers from the afternoon's action on Tyneside.
Loser: Stevan Jovetic, Manchester City
Stevan Jovetic is a loser, but take the term "loser" in this instance with a pinch of salt.
His 72 minutes were very good; he passed well, pulled off flicks and ran himself into the ground. The problem is that Sergio Aguero needed just seven minutes to score the goal he couldn't, with Edin Dzeko arguably out-performing the Montenegrin too.
Jovetic is classy and played well, but to get into this team, you have to be superb every single week. As good as he was, it's possible his stock actually fell on Sunday.
Winner: Joe Hart, Manchester City
Joe Hart was always going to start the season as Manchester City's No. 1, but the last seven days of football have strengthened his hold on the spot immeasurably.
First, Willy Caballero lets in three during the Community Shield. None were his fault and he didn't play badly, but goalkeepers trade on clean sheets.
Next, Hart grabs himself a clean sheet and makes one nice late contribution to deny Newcastle United a way back in.
Loser: Matija Nastasic, Manchester City
Matija Nastasic didn't even make the 18 for Manchester City on Sunday despite starting in the Community Shield seven days before.
Martin Demichelis and Vincent Kompany both stepped in after extended FIFA World Cup 2014 breaks to keep a clean sheet, Dedryck Boyata was on the bench and Eliaquim Mangala is soon to come in too.
Whether or not Nastasic was injured, the fact that he missed the squad does not bode well for him. He's a fantastic player and a worthy addition to any other team in the league, so he'd better hope he's allowed to leave this month.
Winner: Aleksandar Kolarov, Manchester City
It may not seem like it, but these opening exchanges for Manchester City bear critical importance to Aleksandar Kolarov.
He's been sharing the left-back slot for three years with Gael Clichy and will look to move ahead of him this season; comprehensive showings like the one on show at St. James' Park will boost his stock considerably.
When Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna return, Clichy could well be marginalised.
Loser: Alan Pardew, Newcastle United
It's not fair to judge Newcastle United or Alan Pardew off 90 minutes at home to the reigning champions of England, but conclusions are drawn from every game and, like Sam Allardyce, the Magpies manager has started badly and arguably missed a chance to relieve the pressure on his shoulders.
The good news? Newcastle played very well and matched City in patches, and their new signings contributed.
The bad news? It wasn't enough, and no matter how you spin it, zero shots on target is a concern no matter the opposition—particularly on home soil.
Also, bringing on Gabriel Obertan for Yoan Gouffran proved a wildly unpopular choice, encouraging boos from the stands.
Winner: Jack Colback, Newcastle United
Jack Colback made his competitive debut for his boyhood club on Sunday, trotting out onto the field in a Newcastle United kit—not a Sunderland kit—for the first time in the Premier League.
He played well, commanding a position in holding midfield alongside Vurnon Anita and stayed on for the duration of the game.
His set-piece deliveries were astonishingly good, and it's clear the monopoly Sebastian Larsson had on free-kicks and corners at the Stadium of Light was unjust to a point.