Main Page

Quick Links

The Rest
   Club info
   Last Season
   Unlikely Lads
   A-Z Index

Season 2017-18
Manchester City (h) Premier League
since 2012

Wednesday 27th December 2017, 7.45pm

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Unprecedented

I wanted a match
programme - but
they only had 
Smash Hits


Manchester City

0 - 1




31 mins Kevin De Bruyne's 40 yard forward pass dropped perfectly for Raheem Sterling, whose run towards the back post took him away from covering defender Chancel Mbemba. 

Sterling's first touch took the ball between Elliot and inside near post at the Gallowgate End for his 13th PL goal of the season and Manchester City's 61st in their 20th game.

Half time: Magpies 0 Citizens 1

Full time: Magpies 0 Citizens 1

We Said


Rafa Benitez:

"When you play against Manchester City, you have to be aware of the way they are doing things now. You just have to look at what happened when they played against Tottenham, Bournemouth or Swansea.

"We were in the game right until the end, it was very close. Our fans are clever and they know we needed to do things this way.

"We had some chances at the end, and we expected to have to defend and play counter-attack. We needed to stay compact and defend well to play like that.

"In the last 20 minutes we did what was expected, being on top of them and expecting to press high. I am really pleased with the team in terms of organisation, but we discussed we could be better on the ball in the first half.

"We have to bring someone in to help the team but still have a lot of confidence in the team.

"We're not resting anyone. I was trying to win this game with the players I thought were the best. 

"We cannot forget we have a couple of games in the next few days. The idea was to have players with pace and play on the counter-attack and then try to create something, which we did in the first half with Rolando and the second half a couple of chances. 

"We were very close."

They Said

Pep Guardiola said:



"First time, it's nice to be here. Famous club, famous stadium"

After the game:

"As a manager I have to adapt. In these 18 games, we have played teams who high press, low press, attack us,
(play) just set pieces, just like Tottenham who tried to go forward and attack, and in all of them, we have been able to beat them.

"The magnificent thing about football and any manager of any team is they can play any way. 

"Teams can try to trick you, but you have to be able to beat them and until now we have been able to do that.

"We deserved to win. It's not easy when Newcastle don’t want to play. They defend well and want to counter-attack and defend deep. It's not easy. 

"We created chances in the first half and the beginning of the second. In the last minutes... it was a little more complicated.....we played in their rhythm and then it was not easy because it is not over at 1-0 - we created enough chances to win 2-0, 3-0, 4-0.

"We created chances. At half-time it could have been three or four. It’s okay. When you're winning 18 games in a row, you have 10/15 minutes in that way but we are so happy."

Final word to the official Manchester City website:

"This is Pep Guardiola’s masterplan being realised. Even when City are somewhat below par, our ability to retain the ball makes it difficult for the opposition to affect the game."

Was that translated from the original North Korean?



The last time United parked the bus at the Gallowgate End?

Newcastle suffered their fifth successive home league defeat, the first time they've done so in a Premier League season (they reached four during both 2014 and 2015).

One has to go back to the 1953/54 season to find a similar five game losing run at SJP, which was then extended to six games before ending with a 4-0 success against Cardiff City that November.

This was only the third time in the PL era that we haven't played a game on Boxing Day. 1993 saw us idle until December 28th when losing 0-1 at Chelsea, while the last game actually on the 27th was a 0-2 loss away to Manchester United in 1995

The Citizens haven't lost at SJP since Michael Owen beat goalkeeper David James to net the only goal in September 2005. No less than four future or former Magpies appeared for them that day: Sylvain Distin, Stephen Ireland, Antoine Sibierkski and Joey Barton.

They won nine and drawn the other two of their last eleven league and cup visits to Tyneside. 

NB: those two draws both came during seasons when we were relegated from the Premier League.

United v City @ SJP - PL record:

2017/18 Lost 0-1
2015/16 Drew 1-1 Anita
2014/15 Lost 0-2
2013/14 Lost 0-2
2013/14 Lost 0-2 (LC)
2012/13 Lost 1-3 Ba
2011/12 Lost 0-2
2010/11 Lost 1-3 Carroll
2008/09 Drew 2-2 Ameobi, og(Dunne)
2007/08 Lost 0-2
2006/07 Lost 0-1
2005/06 Won 1-0 Owen
2004/05 Won 4-3 Robert, Shearer, Elliott, Bellamy.
2003/04 Won 3-0 Shearer 2, Ameobi
2002/03 Won 2-0 Shearer, Bellamy
2001/02 Won 1-0 Solano (FAC)
2000/01 Lost 0-1
1995/96 Won 3-1 Ferdinand 2, Beardsley
1994/95 Drew 0-0
1994/95 Won 3-1 Gillespie 2, Beresford (FAC)
1994/95 Lost 0-2 (LC)
1993/94 Won 2-0 Cole 2

Opposition stats:

City set a new club record of 20 unbeaten league games against a specific opponent, exceeding their 19 game run against Barnsley between 1898 and 1987. Since that 1-0 success here back in September 2005, Newcastle have drawn three and lost seventeen games against this lot.  

MCFC published % possession figures of 82/18 after 45 minutes, 78/22 at full time. They also claim Nicolas Otamendi completed 122 passes and all the NUFC outfield players combined managed 115.

City recorded an 18th successive league victory
to extend an English top-flight record. They remain unbeaten after 20 PL games - the only blemish being a 1-1 home draw with Everton.

The visitors have won all ten of their PL away games this season, adding to victory at Watford in the closing away game of last season. That 11 game run equals the PL record set by Chelsea in 2008 that included a victory on Tyneside. 

Pep Guardiola's side last dropped an away point in a 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough in April 2017, last failing to score on the road at Everton in January 2017.



The MC5-4-1


Manchester City's relentless march towards the title continued at St. James' Park on Wednesday evening, as Newcastle attempted to slow up the Pep-driven Sky Blue juggernaut.

As had been anticipated, the strategy chosen by Rafa Benitez was one of containment, matching both the reality of our situation as a newly-promoted side and the unparalleled form of City, that had taken them 12 points clear at the top of the league before the first whistle tonight.    

You'd expect us perhaps to interject at this stage with a pithy comment about us once holding a similar advantage over the rest of the Premier League but failing to carry off the silverware.

However this is a rather different Newcastle United than the 1996 vintage, playing in a radically altered competition that barely warrants the use of that word - competitive it isn't, thanks to the ludicrous skewing that limitless global resources and funding has produced.

Having seen his team struggle against more earthly opponents while vastly superior XIs were being dismantled by City in recent weeks, Rafa opted to "park the bus" with a 5-4-1 formation that took the term "rearguard action" to new heights and that St. James' Park has surely never seen before.

And it almost worked; a combination of disciplined play that will have given the manager some satisfaction and also good fortune that saw City miss chances, our usual tormentor Sergio Aguero failing to score on a night when he could just as easily have taken the match ball home with him.

Five personnel changes from Saturday's 3-2 victory at West Ham saw Paul Dummett return from injury to occupy a central defensive spot along with Jamaal Lascelles and the recalled Chancel Mbemba as Ciaran Clark dropped down the bench.

Jonjo Shelvey was introduced following his two game ban and Mo Diame kept his place, but Henri Saivet, Matt Ritchie, Christian Atsu and Dwight Gayle were all omitted - Saivet not even making the bench. Joselu remained up front, flanked at a distance by Rolando Aarons and Jacob Murphy.

Taking a shot at goal straight from the kick-off gave Shelvey and his side an entry in the shots on target column but from that point the action was firmly at the other end - one local writer quipping that if our defence had been any deeper they'd have been behind the bar in The Strawberry...

Getting through the opening half hour unscathed, United promptly conceded but did then venture upfield and threaten an equaliser within three minutes. Kyle Walker's slip gave Aarons a rare sight of goal and his dipping effort was headed off the line by Nicolas Otamendi with Joselu in attendance.

Stay in the game is the mantra and trailing by just one goal with an hour gone, the hosts began to come out of their shell and Dwight Gayle replaced Joselu - although the number had been briefed on the touchline by the manager some minutes earlier. 

The next phase of the plan then saw Atsu and Merino introduced, the former's ability to run and maintain possession that at least gave City some pause for thought. It was Merino though whose industry in central midfield caused Guardiola to become ever-more animated on the touchline as Newcastle and the crowd sensed that there could still be one final twist in this tale.  

Home fans had been on their feet seconds before Merino came on, when Gayle tumbled over in the box when coming into contact with Danilo. The Newcastle striker's reward was a yellow card for a rather obvious dive but why he didn't try to shoot and perhaps draw a genuine foul only he knows.

Gayle then headed Atsu's centre just past the post in the final seconds of normal time before the four additional minutes drained away without further incident. 

Rafa's tactics were questioned by the press and wider public - Sky especially going overboard - but ultimately Newcastle came very close to pinching a point, which 17 other clubs have failed to do so far despite their riches and renown. After all, that's his job.

And breaking off from the Pep love-in for a moment, the ramifications of both the scoreline and the manner of the defeat are rather sizeable for Benitez and Newcastle at the moment. 

Saturday's clash with old boy Chris Hughton is the first of three massive league games for us. The outcome of meetings with Brighton, Stoke and Swansea will do more to determine our future than tonight, but we go into those games without having had our goal difference or belief battered. As a witness to six, seven and eight goal losses, it's quite nice not being cannon fodder for once....

And crucially, so does a fanbase that remain "with the project" - to the evident frustration of the same slackjaws who are so quick to criticise our alleged unrealistic expectations and managerial discontent. Maligned for hounding poor old Pards out of town, now mocked for backing Benitez.

Losing by just the one goal left us ahead of Crystal Palace in fifteenth spot before Arsenal's defeat of the Eagles 24 hours later marginally improved our standing.  

God alone knows what will happen when these sides meet again in 24 days, but what happens in the interim may have put us in a significantly better position by then. And who knows, we might not have any new players, but a plan B and C for that game at the Etihad may have been devised.

Now there's a novelty for a Newcastle side.


Page last updated 31 December, 2017