Pep Guardiola’s ‘genius’ tactic, Newcastle United injury concern & new signing expected for Liverpool

Newcastle United lost 1-0 at Manchester City on Saturday evening - here are the talking points from the match.
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Unchanged Newcastle line-up as Man City ‘down to the bones’

Eddie Howe named an unchanged starting line-up to the side that beat Aston Villa 5-1 at St James’ Park last weekend. It was an easy decision for the Magpies boss to make given the level of performance on show in the opening game.

The only change for United came on the bench as Matt Ritchie came in for winger Jacob Murphy, who had to watch the match from hospital with his partner due to give birth.

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Meanwhile, Man City made just two changes from the side that beat Sevilla on penalties in the UEFA Super Cup final in Greece on Wednesday. Despite the quick turnaround, only Ruben Dias and Julian Alvarez replaced Nathan Ake and Cole Palmer.

Injuries to Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones left City depleted in terms of options off the bench. City’s substitutes had an average age of just 22.

Manchester City’s treble party

It was cause for celebration in Man City’s first home match of the new season and their first since claiming a historic treble last campaign. There were literal fireworks as the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League trophies were on display with blue and white banners draped over the East Stand.

For all the encouragement of last season’s fourth place finish for Newcastle, the gulf between the two clubs was further emphasised before a ball was even kicked.

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And the pre-match celebrations galvansied the home side as they controlled possession and limited Newcastle to very little. The introduction of Alvarez for the match proved to be a smart change by Pep Guardiola as the Argentine received Phil Foden’s pass just inside the box before rifling the ball into the top left corner.

It was Man City’s first shot on target in the match and it proved a decisive one.

Manchester City duo Julian Alvarez (left) and Phil Foden (right). (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)Manchester City duo Julian Alvarez (left) and Phil Foden (right). (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Manchester City duo Julian Alvarez (left) and Phil Foden (right). (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

A potential injury blow for Newcastle United ahead of Liverpool

Not long into the second half and Newcastle midfielder Joelinton appeared to be struggling physically. The Brazilian had been booked and was limping heavily when Howe decided to hook him for Sean Longstaff before the hour mark.

Unfortunately the Magpies boss couldn’t shed much light on the injury concern after the game.

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“No news,” Howe told The Gazette when asked about Joelinton’s injury. “I know what you know, he didn’t move well when he came off the pitch. Fingers crossed he’s okay.”

Joelinton warming up at Manchester City.  Joelinton warming up at Manchester City.
Joelinton warming up at Manchester City.

A familiar feeling at Manchester City

While the hosts had opportunities to extend their lead, some good defending and goalkeeping from Nick Pope kept The Magpies in the match.

But there was that familiar suffocating feeling of playing away at the Etihad Stadium where, despite the scoreline being tight, Newcastle never really looked like turning things around.

It took The Magpies 70 minutes to register their first and only shot on target in the match as Harvey Barnes’ edge of the box strike was comfortably saved by Ederson.

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Newcastle ultimately lacked the ruthlessness or cutting edge to really hurt City as the European champions were able to see out a 1-0 win.

It was a 15th consecutive Premier League defeat for Newcastle at the Etihad Stadium, yet on this occasion the feeling was one of unfulfilled potential.

“We really wanted to be ourselves but didn’t execute it properly,” Howe summed up after the match.

“We are disappointed overall because we know we can be better than that. We are aware that we are against the best team in world football in my opinion so it was a real challenge for us.”

Pep Guardiola’s clever tactic which paid off for Man City

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The second half saw Eddie Howe turn to his bench in an attempt to turn the game in Newcastle’s favour. Sean Longstaff, Elliot Anderson, Harvey Barnes and Callum Wilson all came off the bench while Tino Livramento was handed his debut during the final moments of the match.

The Magpies, for once, boasted a considerably more expensive and arguably stronger bench than Man City. Ultimately the changes weren’t able to impact the game as Guardiola refrained from making any substitutions despite one fan in the stands encouraging him to do so.

Guardiola had a good-spirited interaction with the fan encouraging him to make a change and introduce a player such as Cole Palmer, Kalvin Phillips or Nathan Ake from the bench, but the Spaniard stood his ground.

Although his team tired toward the end, Guardiola had his reasons for not making a change.

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“[The supporter] asked me to make a substitution,” Guardiola said afterward. “I thought less substitutions would mean less extra time, so I thought that way.”

Guardiola recently hit-out at the new rules regarding added time which results in more stoppages being taken into account and added at the end of the game. Although Newcastle made five changes in the second half, City’s lack of substitutions resulted in only five minutes being added at the end of the match.

Newcastle United’s next summer signing in attendance

Watching on from the stands was 18-year-old Newcastle supporter Lewis Hall, whose loan move from Chelsea had not yet been confirmed. The Magpies agreed a £28million obligation to buy deal for the left-back to be paid at the end of the 2023-24 campaign.

The 18-year-old was on Tyneside on Friday for his medical before travelling down to the Etihad Stadium.

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Discussing Hall’s attendance, Howe said: “He’d have probably seen the quality in the game but I don’t think that would surprise him coming from Chelsea.

“I think a little bit [he’d] be looking directly at us for one of the first times and exactly how we play and what we do.”

The teenager is set to be available for Newcastle’s next Premier League match against Liverpoon at St James’ Park next Sunday (4:30pm kick-off).