Manchester City players largely faltered in their audition for Double Gameweek 25 as they were defeated 2-1 by Newcastle.
It was a game in which the defending champions struggled to fashion many clear cut opportunities and after labouring they were stunned by their spirited hosts.
How their key options fared at St James Park, ahead of a crucial double set of Fantasy Premier League matches next time around, is the focus of this latest Scout Notes article.
Newcastle 2-1 Manchester City
Goals: Salomón Rondón (£5.7m), Matt Ritchie (£5.8m) | Sergio Aguero (£11.3m)
Assists: Isaac Hayden (£4.3m), Sean Longstaff (£4.5m) | David Silva (£8.5m)
Sergio Aguero (£11.3m) was perhaps the only Manchester City option to come off well ahead of Double Gameweek 25, as he scored in the 2-1 defeat to Newcastle. Not only did he find the net in the opening exchanges, but he was also the only player in the match to register more than one shot on target. The Argentinian had three efforts in the penalty area, matched only by David Silva (£8.5m), and collected maximum bonus points.
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling (£11.3m) was incredibly underwhelming, not registering a single shot in the entire match. Typically very active in the opposition penalty area, he managed just three touches of the ball in that area of the pitch. The fact that he played 90 minutes at St James’ Park and is always under threat of rotation, options such as Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) or Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m) waiting in the wings, could reduce his appeal ahead of the Double Gameweek. Aguero’s 90-minute display may also count against him too when managers are recruiting in the next few days, as Gabriel Jesus (£10.1m) played just 17 minutes.
“It was not our best night. We lost second balls, we were not aggressive enough, that’s why we could not win.” – Pep Guardiola
It was a mixed evening for owners of Leroy Sané (£9.7m) who were would have been happy to see the German in the starting XI once again. He has now featured from the beginning in 11 of Manchester City’s last 12 Premier League matches. However, Sané’s blank was the first time he failed to be involved in a goal since Gameweek 20 when he featured only as a late substitute. The silver lining on the Gameweek 24 two-pointer was the fact that Sané was withdrawn in the 72nd minute which would suggest he is being prepped to start at least the first match of Double Gameweek 25.
Benjamin Mendy (£6.1m) was, again, not named in the matchday squad as he continues to struggle with his comeback from injury. Pep Guardiola insisted he was much better ahead of Gameweek 24, but preferred instead to leave him out. That means we will likely have to wait until his pre-match press conference on Friday before assessing his chances of being involved in Double Gameweek 25 and factored into the team selection picture.
The aforementioned Silva was a rare bright spark in Manchester City’s midfield, appearing the only one to have the aggressiveness about his game that Guardiola explained his team was missing in the encounter. He inadvertently provided the assist for Aguero’s opener and could have had a goal of his own later in the first half had he put more power on a close-range header.
Kevin de Bruyne (£9.7m) started for the second time in a row and was level with Silva for chances created in the game. However, as tempers boiled in the second half he was withdrawn by Guardiola. That might mean he is a little fresher to play a decent role in the Double Gameweeks. Bernardo Silva (£7.6m) played just 25 minutes and seems assured of a place in at least the Arsenal match, while de Bruyne may have the advantage over David Silva on account of the latter’s 90-minute outing at Newcastle.
The defeat was indicative of the underlying problems within Manchester City’s defence this season. They came into Gameweek 24 with the best goal attempts conceded in the box total over the previous four matches, and yet still conceded twice from the three efforts Newcastle mustered there on Tuesday night. A number of teams have scored on Guardiola’s men with their first attacks of matches in 2018/19, and Newcastle continued that trend by making the most of the few opportunities that came their way.
“They shot twice. The first was the goal and the second was the penalty. We had the chances but when that happens, everything is open. Congratulations to Newcastle for the victory.” – Pep Guardiola
With that in mind, Manchester City defensive options look even less attractive for the Double Gameweek now. Ederson (£5.6m) and Aymeric Laporte (£6.1m) were the only two real candidates for inclusion considering Guardiola’s rotation policy, but their prices do not offer much value. Neither of them can offer much goal threat on top of their poor clean sheet potential, with Arsenal and Everton their opponents. The Gunners have averaged two goals per away match this season while the Toffees have netted in four of their last five played at Goodison Park.n four of their last five played
Rafa Benitez once again demonstrated his importance to Newcastle as he orchestrated a sensational victory for his side. Many other sides would have panicked after conceding in the 25th second of the match against Manchester City and been picked apart for the rest of the encounter, but the former Liverpool boss kept his players calm and collected. Rather than send them charging up the pitch to get back into the game, Benitez’s men kept it tight, absorbed City’s pressure and did their damage in the second half once they had some wind in their sails.
“It was a great effort from everyone and to win against a team as good as Manchester City. They have everything. They are so good so when you get three points against them you know the players have done really well. Everyone was fighting for each other. We had a couple of situations where they were dangerous on the counter-attack but on the whole we defended well. The game plan was not to concede in the first minute but we reacted very well. We changed things at half-time and we were good enough to score two goals.” – Rafa Benitez
Fabian Schär (£4.6m) demonstrated his credentials once again, but for a different reason than his two-goal performance against Cardiff. Rather than impressing going forward, this time the Swiss international was a rock at the back, topping the Clearances, Blocks and Interceptions (CBI) tally for the match with nine.
Salomón Rondón (£5.7m) was the man to get Newcastle back in the game, and now has attacking returns in his last two home matches. He assisted against Cardiff before netting on Tuesday night. However, his crucial goal against Manchester City came from just one effort in the whole game, suggesting he remains a budget asset to avoid for now. That particular statistic further proves how fragile City’s defence is though, very little required from opposition to break through it.
Matt Ritchie (£5.8m) was officially Newcastle’s most dangerous player on the night with his two efforts on goal, although one of those was his second-half penalty. The Scottish international further staked his claim on spot-kicks by dispatching the winning goal after Sean Longstaff (£4.5m) was fouled in the area.
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Dubravka; Ritchie, Lejeune, Lascelles, Schär, Yedlin; Atsu (Kenedy 87′), Longstaff, Hayden, Pérez (Manquillo 90+1′); Rondón.
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Danilo (Gündogan 83′), Laporte, Stones, Walker; D Silva, Fernandinho, De Bruyne (B Silva 65′); Sané (Jesus 73′), Aguero, Sterling.
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