Raheem Sterling, Kyle Walker star for Manchester City but strikers struggle
You could be forgiven for thinking Manchester City made hard work of their 2-1 victory vs. Newcastle, but while there is no doubt Pep Guardiola's team deserved the three points, boy did the visitors make it tough. Nevertheless, a win is a win and means City have not lost more ground on the early Premier League leaders.
It could have been one of those games where fans came away cursing missed chances, but City dug deep and ground out the points. At times it wasn't pretty, but it was effective and the team kept finding dangerous positions, despite Newcastle's determination to get a foot in or a block on everything thrown at them.
After four games, City are yet to recapture the sort of threat that earned them 100 points last season. They should expect teams to try and cut down space but, the 6-1 victory over Huddersfield aside, Guardiola's men have drifted in and out of good moments too often.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Guardiola picked a bold and offensive line-up, pushing forward with two strikers, but City looked more in control when Bernardo Silva was added into the middle.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 7 -- The goalkeeper played some clever, quick passes -- with his hands and feet -- to try and get City moving forward quickly after turnovers in possession. He could do nothing about Newcastle's goal.
DF Kyle Walker, 8 -- If you are going to win a tight game with a piledriver from an unlikely source, it is even better when fans around you mutter "oh, don't hit it from there." Defenders probably should not be shooting through as many bodies as Walker did, but City are thankful that he did. It was a wonderful strike, worthy of winning the game and topped off a fine defensive performance.
DF John Stones, 7 -- The defender was quietly effective. Several times, he stepped in to win the ball with good anticipation and came out on top in his battle with Salomon Rondon for much of the afternoon.
DF Aymeric Laporte, 7 -- He is forming a nice partnership with Stones in the heart of defence. Once again, he complimented his colleague well and together they look solid on the ball, even if they do take risks from time to time.
DF Benjamin Mendy, 6 -- It is difficult to sum up the full-back's contribution. Positionally, he can get lost and find himself in places that would leave Guardiola throwing his arms around. Mendy whipped in some fantastic crosses that caused Newcastle problems, but at other times found himself unable to get the ball under control.
MF Fernandinho, 6 -- A little off the boil, he was unable to get the ball forward as quickly as normal and did not have his usual grip on the midfield. You don't see performances like these too often from Fernandinho.
MF David Silva, 6 -- Newcastle either chopped him down in a dangerous position, surrounded him with bodies and gave him no room to work, or managed to get a toe on nearly every through ball he tried. Silva kept plugging away, but it just was not his day.
MF Raheem Sterling, 8 -- The winger's afternoon was set up perfectly by a brilliant strike for the opening goal. He caused Newcastle problems all day and was superb on the left flank; a side where he is normally less effective.
MF Riyad Mahrez, 6 -- It looks like he needs a goal or some luck to help him settle at his new club. Judgement should be withheld for now -- he has started twice in the Premier League for City -- but he is looking a little reserved.
FW Sergio Aguero, 6 -- Normally so potent against Newcastle, but there was no room for him to work. His best chance came late but, with teammates better placed, he chipped wide rounding goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 6 -- The Brazilian striker suffered the same problems as his forward partner, in that it was overcrowded in the final third. As such, Jesus could not get involved in the game.
MF Bernardo Silva, 7 -- The creative midfielder drifted through the lines well and gave City more control when he replaced Jesus on 58 minutes.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, NR -- Supported Fernandinho well after replacing Mahrez with 15 minutes to go.
DF Vincent Kompany, NR -- On for Silva, the skipper shored up the home defence as Newcastle pressed for an equaliser.