Today`s match saw the only to unbeaten teams in the top flight of English Football clash at the Etihad stadium. City were the League`s top scorers with 39 goals whilst Newcastle could boast the most miserly defence having conceded only 8 goals in 11 outings. There was no doubt that City oozed class with midfield wizard David Silva having created 33 chances from open play and a league topping 6 assists (joint with Samir Nasri) whilst the League`s leading scorer was Edin Dzeko, but today was a big test.
Mancini made a number of changes to the side that last played in the win at QPR and the biggest surprise of all was the absence of David Silva, as Mancini had one eye on Tuesday`s must win game at Napoli. The starting line-up was Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, De Jong, Yaya Toure, Milner, Nasri, Balotelli and Aguero. The City bench consisted of Pantillimon, Kolo Toure, Kolarov, Barry, Johnson, Silva and Dzeko?.quite possibly the best bench ever in the history of the Premier League.
City kicked off left to right and were immediately on the defence when De Jong dallied on the ball too long and had to be rescued by a well timed Lescott tackle. Hart played the resultant goal kick long to the right.
Newcastle were holding a very high line in the opening few minutes, compacting the midfield and pressing City with every opportunity. This didn`t stop City playing and the first five minutes had been played mostly in the Newcastle half. The Blues were controlling the opening exchanges but were guilty of wanting too many touches.
Nearly nine minutes in and City`s first chance came as Richards made the overlapping run and Toure found him with a wonderful thirty yard cross field ball. Richards found the by line and cut back a wonderful ball which was intercepted by Collocini. The clearance fell to Milner who struck a wicked shot which deflected off a defender and back in to play. No goal, but a chance.
Fourteen minutes in and Newcastle attacked down the City right through the excellent Ben Arfa. Clichy though was up to the task and a his perfectly timed tackle retrieved the back although his clearance under pressure only found the by line.
Four minutes later and the magnificent Toure found Balotelli who had dropped deep. Balotelli ran with the ball and played Aguero in on the right of the Newcastle box. Aguero then chose the wrong option and opted to pass when he was unmarked and shooting would have undoubtedly resulted in a chance. .
A minute later and City had moved up a gear as they passed the Newcastle team to death. First Nasri then Toure played killer passes. The latter finding Aguero again on the edge of the Newcastle box. Aguero spun on a six pence and unleashed a wicked shot that whilst dipping, just cleared the top of the Newcastle bar as Kruul looked on.
City should have scored on twenty six minutes after neat work by Nasri on the City left. The French man put in a high cross which was met magnificently by Richards. The headed ball landed at the feet of Collocini who managed to clear as Balotelli bore down on him. Thirty seconds later and another wonderful ball by Toure found Milner on the City right. Milner swung in a great cross which Balotelli headed powerfully towards goal. Newcastle`s keeper Kruul was up to the task though and put the ball wide for a corner.
Newcastle`s first shot on target came on thirty three minutes as Kompany rashly went to ground as Ben Arfa jinked around him to set up Ba for a wicked shot which Hart managed to push around his post for a corner.
The ref wasn`t having the best of games as he gave free kick after free kick against Toure as the magnificent Ivorian bossed the midfield and Newcastle players seemed to fall at his feet in awe as the small amount of contact made wouldn`t have felled a blade of grass.
On forty minutes City won a penalty after a handball in the box by a Newcastle defender. Balotelli planted the ball on the spot, took a slow run up, dropped his shoulder one way and nonchalantly stroked the ball to the keepers left into the side netting. One nil to City and in truth the goal had been coming as the Blues had dominated possession and created the best chances.
Within two minutes, it was two nil as Aguero found the ball at his feet in the Newcastle box. He turned and played a poor ball towards the advancing Richards who once more had made an overlapping run. Richards didn`t give up and as the Newcastle centre half was about to clear the ball, Richards nicked it off his feet and in one move put the ball into the Newcastle net past the despairing Krull.
This was followed by another poor decision by the ref as Balotelli seemed to excecute a perfect tackle and came away with the ball. Not according to this ref who blew for a free kick. This was followed instantly by a perfect dive by Ben Arfa who was not booked for simulating as the ref waved play on.
The whistle went for half time with City firmly on top and now looking like the only unbeaten team in English top flight football.
The second half started with no changes and Newcastle earnt a corner within the opening seconds. City dealt well with the corner and Milner broke quickly. Aguero made a great run between centre half and full back. Milner saw the run and played a great ball which was just too far in front of Aguero for him to reach it before Kruul.
Fifty one minutes in and man of the match Toure made a surging run from the right of midfield, across the pitch. Milner found him with a wonderful ball. Toure was forced wide, but still earnt a City corner as the ball came off a defender before going over the touchline.
Newcastle couldn`t be faulted for effort and Ben Arfa seemed to be their best player, but for all their chasing and harrying, they couldn`t break down the City wall and had been limited to one good chance and a couple of half chances.
It was nearly three nil on fifty six minutes after some wonderful and intricate passing play between Toure, Nasri and Aguero and only a lucky save by Kruul prevented the cheeky chip from Aguero (which ended the series of passes) crossing the line for a City goal.
First bad mistake of the game came from Kompany who took his eye off the ball as Ben Arfa loomed close. The Frenchman accepted the ball off Kompany and turned towards goal. His shot was on target, but Lescott managed to deflect it out for a corner which City defended well.
Aguero nearly scored for City seconds later as he picked the ball up thirty yards out on the City left and went on a jinking run which ended five yards out. Kruul went down to save and the ball bounced free. Aguero`s second attempt was saved easily.
Sixty six minutes in and Newcastle`s best chance of the game was saved by Hart down to his left. Seconds later and City broke with Clichy and Balotelli. The ball was played perfectly to Clichy but the linesman bizarrely flagged offside when Clichy must have been a yard onside when the ball was played.
On sixty nine minutes, Merlin entered the fray as he replaced Balotelli who had been in danger of losing his cool having kicked out at a Newcastle player.
Silva`s first touch of the game set up Richards who earnt City a penalty when he was clipped from behind in the penalty area whilst on one of his surging runs. With Balotelli just replaced by Silva, up stepped Aguero who with equal nonchalance and aplomb, stepped up and side footed the ball past Kruul and into the side netting. Three nil to City.
Seventy five minutes in and City`s second substitution took place as Aguero who seemed to injure himself seconds earlier was replaced by new contract signee Adam Johnson. Newcastle also made their first change as Lovenkraands replace Ben Arfa.
With twelve minutes to go Pardew made another substitution as Ameobi was replaced by Gosling. This was just damage limitation though as City were cruising and looking a completely different class to Newcastle. City were purring and at the centre of everything was the magnificent Yaya Toure who in my opinion was having his best game in a City shirt.
Final substitution for City came in the form of Gareth Barry who replaced Yaya Toure who went off to cheers and a standing ovation for his brilliant man of the match performance. Newcastle also made their final substation of the game as Kabay was replaced by James Perch.
As the game drew to a close, Newcastle scored a consolation goal after a mix up between Kompany and Lescott. That aside, this had been a masterful performance from City who had limited Newcastle to a handful of chances and put three past the meanest defence in the Premier League. The Invincibles continued on their march toward the Premier League title leaving everyone in their wake and Roberto Mancini must have been hugely proud of his charges who played great football from the first to the last second of the match.
Joe Hart – 8
Pulled off a couple of great saves.
Micah Richards – 9
Scored one, set one up and earnt a penalty and still can’t get in the England Squad. Head and shoulders above any other right back in the country.
Vincent Kompany – 7
Made a couple of bad mistakes and was at fault for the Newcastle goal.
Joleon Lescott – 8
Some towering headers and some great interceptions. Looks bouyed by his England performance but was at fault along with Kompany for the Newcastle goal.
Gael Clichy – 8
Played well tackled well and did what was asked of him.
Nigel De Jong – 8
Tackled and passed, passed and tackled. One tough cookie.
Yaya Toure – 9.5
An almost perfect performance by my man of the match. Wonderful to watch and an utter midfield power house.
James Milner – 9
Ran his heart out and was everywhere on the pitch.
Samir Nasri – 8
Had a better game today and linked up well with Aguero and Balotelli
Mario Balotelli – 8
Had a good game but was in danger of losing his cool towards the end. Scored his penalty with aplomb.
Sergio Aguero – 8
Scored his penalty well and could have had another had he opted to shoot. Another good performance
David Silva – 8
Created a penalty with his first touch. Reinvigorated City when he came on.
Adam Johnson – 7
One or two good runs but still needs to improve his defensive side of the game.
Slotted right in at defensive mid and looked settled and mature.
Roberto Mancini – 9.5
Won once again and heading for a record breaking season.