Manchester City pass a stiff test against top-four hopefuls Newcastle United to continue their excellent home run versus the Magpies, mainly thanks to a superb Phil Foden performance.
“History is a vast early warning system,” once said Norman Cousins. History warned us that this would always be a Manchester City win.
Newcastle had never managed to win in 18 previous league visits to the Etihad Stadium, with the last 14 of those ending in defeat. Man City had even scored in 29 successive Premier League meetings with their opponents – a competition-record run.
History was right (again); those runs extended to 19 unbeaten with 15 wins in a row at home and 30 consecutive Premier League games against Man City without a clean sheet for Newcastle, but this was far from easy for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Having lost Riyad Mahrez and Ilkay Gündoğan in the summer, and with creator-in-chief Kevin De Bruyne expected to be out of action for the next 3-4 months following his hamstring injury, Manchester City’s pool of younger talent has needed to step up to the plate. Following on from Cole Palmer’s strong performance in the UEFA Super Cup penalties win over Sevilla in midweek, Pep’s pair of 23-year-olds did just that on Saturday night, with Phil Foden and Julián Álvarez combining for the only goal of the game.
Foden’s excellent close control was followed by a clever pass inside to Álvarez, who took a touch before sending a sweet strike past the outstretched hand of Nick Pope in the Newcastle goal. In a tight first half, this was the only shot on target, so it was crucial for the Argentinean to make it count.
Ahead of 2023-24, we questioned whether this season would be the one that sees Álvarez becomes a star. Of course, it’s way too early to make a call on that, but a goal in a crucial game against a potential top-four rival isn’t a bad start. His talent is clear to see, but playing time wasn’t exactly easy to come by last season – he accumulated just 2,525 competitive minutes in 2022-23, the 15th most in the Man City squad. When he starts, he shows what he can do for Guardiola. After the Newcastle win, he’s been directly involved in 20 goals in his 26 starts across all competitions for the club (15 goals, five assists).
Álvarez got the game-winning goal, but the brilliant Foden was the match-winner. His assist was one of seven chances he created in open play on the day, more than every other Man City player combined (five). This tally was also the highest by Foden in a Premier League match, with this his 131st appearance in the competition.
Álvarez’s 31st-minute goal broke the Premier League record for consecutive halves of Premier League football scored in by one team against another – the 17th successive half in which City had scored a goal versus Newcastle. That run may have come to an end with a blank in the second half of this encounter, but it’s no disgrace against an excellent Newcastle United defence. Since the start of last season, only Man City themselves have outperformed Eddie Howe’s side for goals conceded (35) and expected goals faced (42.9).
Newcastle played their part in an engaging encounter, and they’ll not face many tests stiffer than this over the season – even discounting their awful record at the Etihad. For City, winning tight encounters against difficult opponents like Newcastle proves why they are the favourites for a record fourth consecutive English top flight title. Only 36 games to go to create history.
Below is the Opta match centre for the game, which includes team and player stats, a passing network, an Opta chalkboard and more. Everything you need to do your own analysis following the Manchester City vs Newcastle United Premier League match.
Manchester City vs Newcastle Opta Stats
• Manchester City have now won each of their last 11 Premier League games at the Etihad Stadium – only once have they had a longer such run under Pep Guardiola (14 games between September 2017 and March 2018).
• Newcastle have lost their last 15 away games against Manchester City in the Premier League – their longest ever losing run away from home against an opponent in their league history.
• Phil Foden created seven chances from open play for Manchester City in this match – his most in a single Premier League game, in what was his 131st appearance in the competition.
• Newcastle recorded just one shot on target at the Etihad Stadium; their joint-fewest in a Premier League game under Eddie Howe, and fewest since their 0-0 draw at Arsenal in January (one).
• Manchester City didn’t make any substitutions in a Premier League game for the first time since May 2022 (v West Ham), while it was just the sixth time in 268 league games in charge of the club that Pep Guardiola hasn’t made any changes.
• Julián Álvarez has been directly involved in 20 goals in his 26 starts across all competitions for Manchester City, scoring 15 goals and providing five assists.