NEWCASTLE 2-2 MANCHESTER CITY
- Goals: Jetro Willems (£4.6m), Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m) | Raheem Sterling (£11.9m), Kevin de Bruyne (£10.2m)
- Assists: Miguel Almiron (£5.8m), Christian Atsu (£5.4m) | David Silva (£7.6m)
- Bonus: de Bruyne x3, Shelvey x2, Martin Dubravka (£5.0m) x1
A late Kevin de Bruyne (£10.2m) stunner reminiscent of mid-90s Tony Yeboah almost stole all three points for Manchester City at Newcastle but, thanks to a long-range Jonjo Shelvey (£5.0m) equaliser, the champions have dropped vital points on Tyneside for the second time in 2019.
Raheem Sterling (£11.9m) put the visitors ahead after some scrappy in-box interplay with David Silva (£7.6m) resulted in a calm finish into the far corner past Martin Dubravka (£5.0m). He could easily have scored a second in stoppage time, his low volley bringing a good save from the Slovakian after a glorious pass from de Bruyne.
Amidst the emergence of some fantastic mid-priced midfielders and the Jose Mourinho-inspired rush to get Tottenham Hotspur assets, Sterling has been sold by over 600,000 managers since Gameweek 11.
Whether it’s frustration over his three preceding blank Gameweeks or the need to raise money, a lot of faith had been lost in the 24-year-old. Even this goal was out-performed by de Bruyne, who claimed three more bonus points.
What may still concern owners is that six of his eight league goals have come away from home and only one assist has been registered all season.
Sterling has 15+ goals and assists from both 2018-19 and 2017-18, so to have only set up one goal by Gameweek 14 is alarming. He is also one yellow card away from suspension.
De Bruyne had an unremarkable afternoon before his stunning strike, offering a consistent set-piece threat against a side known for their feebleness in such situations but was unable to create much in open play, apart from the occasional wayward shot.
The Belgian has scored in two successive matches, just as the assists have started to dry up. It would have been difficult to sustain the astonishing rate of ten assists in nine games, considering the seasonal Premier League record is 20, so his 40.4% ownership will be delighted to see him already on four goals. Until this season, he has never scored more than eight for Man City.
Newcastle quickly responded to Sterling’s goal via Jetro Willems (£4.6m) after being teed-up by Miguel Almiron (£5.8m), letting the ball run inside onto his right foot and firing home.
That means a remarkable nine of their 13 goals (69.2%) have come from defenders. The loanee from Eintracht Frankfurt has flown under the radar this season with his two goals and two assists and is owned by just 2% of Fantasy Premier League bosses.
Up next for the Magpies is a trip to Sheffield United, before facing Southampton, Burnley and Crystal Palace, making Willems an interesting differential at a time where not many reliable clean sheets options are emerging.
Pep Guardiola must be frustrated that his defence conceded to the side with the league’s lowest expected goals (xG) total of 10.71. Although their failure to keep clean sheets isn’t as bad as Liverpool’s, it is now four unsuccessful shut-outs in a row for a high-line back four that looks particularly vulnerable.
Hindsight says that failing to replace Vincent Kompany was a mistake, especially once Aymeric Laporte (£6.3m) suffered a long-term knee injury against Brighton in Gameweek 4. It has forced Guardiola to fast-track with his plan to convert Fernandinho (£5.2m) into a centre-back, usually alongside the unconvincing John Stones (£5.3m) or Nicolas Otamendi (£5.1m).
Furthermore, his handling of Benjamin Mendy (£5.7m) suggests he is not impressed by the left-back and upcoming games against Burnley, Manchester United, Arsenal and Leicester don’t offer much optimism.
Fernandinho was booked for a foul on Joelinton (£5.7m) but it was the pacy Allan Saint-Maximin (£5.4m) who troubled City the most. The unpredictable but exciting Frenchman likes to bamboozle defences and caused occasional trouble for the also-quick Kyle Walker (£5.8m). St James’ Park was cold and quiet today but there was a buzz whenever Saint-Maximin received the ball.
Of course, the summer signing from Nice is still without a goal – just like Almiron – but his constant threat will pass the ‘eye test’ for managers looking for a cheap, rotation-proof differential. He limped off shortly before de Bruyne’s screamer but it looked purely precautionary.
Steve Bruce said of the French winger:
He’s sore. He had a sore one just before half-time but I’m sure he’ll be OK.
The thigh injury of Sergio Aguero (£11.8m) gave Gabriel Jesus (£9.6m) a rare start, despite tallying an impressive 26 goals from his 39 previous league starts in England.
In truth, the Brazilian had a quiet game. He linked up quite well with both Sterling and Riyad Mahrez (£8.3m), setting up half-chances along the way but, apart from a 68th-minute shot at Dubravka, produced very little threat to the well-drilled Newcastle defence.
David Silva is now the game’s fifth highest-scoring midfielder with 67 points, keeping things ticking over with another assist – his sixth of the season.
Before being replaced by Bernardo Silva (£7.9m), the former Valencia man chipped in an inviting cross to Jesus at the back post which just missed any sort of vital contact.
The Portuguese Silva was only given a place on the bench after his return from a one-match suspension, gained for a controversial tweet sent to teammate Mendy. His cameo began in the 69th minute and, within a few minutes, had already caused the Newcastle defence more problems than Mahrez did.
Reflecting on the game, Guardiola said:
It’s what we’ve lived the last four years. We found a way and today, we found it again but unfortunately, at the end, we conceded a goal.
We could not score all the chances we had; they scored the two chances they had. Sometimes it happens.
It’s the game we expected, solid, with ten players in the box, we played so well. We tried to win the game. Maybe they pushed a little bit, that situation didn’t happen too much. We played well and Dubravka made good saves. We arrived in front of the ball many times, unfortunately, we could not score.
Newcastle United XI (5-4-1): Dubravka; Manquillo, Clark, Fernandez, Dummett, Willems; Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 81’); Joelinton (Gayle 70’).
Manchester City XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Fernandinho, Stones, Mendy; De Bruyne, Gundogan, D Silva (B Silva 69’); Mahrez (Foden 69’), Jesus (Rodri 84’), Sterling.