Manchester City flex muscles and cruise past Newcastle

Silva and Aguero strike for opening victory

Perhaps the most worrying part for the teams hoping to outdo Manchester City is that the champions have continued from where they left off last season, while also leaving the clear impression there is better to come. Manuel Pellegrini's team are still trying to restore some order from the summer, with players returning at different times, Sergio Aguero short of fitness and Gael Clichy temporarily standing in as a makeshift right-back.

And yet they still managed to win without a single shot to trouble Joe Hart in goal.

It was their 11th straight victory against Newcastle and a reminder of their collective strength even on a day when there were only fleeting glimpses of the attacking qualities that made them such prolific scorers last season. Not everything has clicked straight away but there was still plenty to admire about their know-how, withstanding some concerted pressure from the home side and then picking them off with their extra quality.

Stunning reminder

Aguero had been on the pitch only eight minutes when he sealed the win in stoppage-time and there was a touch of brilliance about the moment they took the lead, via


David Silva

, six minutes before the interval.

This might not have been the slickest City display – “solid” was the word Pellegrini kept using – but what a stunning reminder that goal was about the gulf that exists between the sides competing for the top prizes and the ones huffing and puffing below.

Edin Dzeko has had a distinguished career but it is debatable whether he has ever produced a moment as exquisite as the back-heel with which he took out two defenders and left Silva with his chance to gather the ball inside the penalty area and score with a low diagonal shot past Tim Krul in Newcastle's goal.

Dzeko, the creator, and Silva, the clinical finisher, appeared to have swapped their usual roles. It was a stunning piece of team play and penetrative attacking whereas the problem all afternoon for Newcastle was that they just did not have the ingenuity to get behind City’s defence and create clear chances. The home side can at least take encouragement from the way they subdued their opponents for long parts of the game and, for now, the crowd appear willing to show a measure of restraint when it comes to their relationship with Pardew and his observation in his programme notes that this is a “new Newcastle”.

When the two sides met in Manchester on the opening day of last season it was a 4-0 thrashing for the north-east club. Yohan Cabaye had just gone on strike and Pardew’s popularity waned to the point that Newcastle finished the season with the crowd in open mutiny.

This latest defeat was nothing like as galling and he was entitled afterwards to praise their efforts. Remy Cabella was the brightest player on the pitch in the first half and another of their summer signings, Jack Colback, quickly won over his new set of supporters, with his crisp challenges and competence on the ball.

Newcastle did, however, look short of ideas in attack in the moments when Cabella drifted out of the game and their new striker, Emmanuel Riviere, had a difficult introduction. Signed from Monaco, he looked anxious at times and maybe too eager to please. When he had his first sight of goal in the opening half he tried an implausible shot from 40 yards and there were not too many other occasions when he troubled Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis in the heart of the opposition defence.

Immediate impact

He was substituted with six minutes to go for another debutant, Ayoze Perez, and the 21-year-old Spaniard almost made an immediate impact, running into the penalty area before taking aim. Fernando, the new minder in City’s midfield, had dashed back to make a telling interception, diverting the ball behind Hart’s goal.

Newcastle will reflect on other moments during the second half when they worked up a head of steam and created at least three reasonable chances to equalise. Paul Dummett headed one over the crossbar from a corner and Yoan Gouffran did not show enough conviction when the ball fell his way during one of several goalmouth scrambles.

“We didn’t get a break”, Pardew lamented. “That’s what you need against the top teams. But we didn’t get a break, we didn’t get a ricochet.”

Equally they did not have the same refinement as their opponents when it really mattered. Dzeko showed why City have been keen to add him to the list of players who have recently signed new contracts, with Pellegrini confirming that the announcement is imminent. Stevan Jovetic also looks as if he could have a good season if he can steer clear of the injuries that have held him back.

Yaya Toure did not have one of his better games, ambling through parts of the game, but Fernando showed why he has been brought in as an upgrade on Javi Garcia – covering space, closing down opponents and acting as a useful barrier in front of defence.

Newcastle put together 12 shots in total but their finishing was poor, epitomised by the chance Moussa Sissoko put over the crossbar just before Aguero scampered away to score the second goal.

He might be lacking fitness but he still managed to elude Fabricio Coloccini from the substitute Fernandinho’s pass. His first effort was left-footed from a difficult angle and came back to him off Krul. Aguero was on his feet in a flash and the Argentinian’s follow-up shot was with the other foot, expertly picking out the far corner. Guardian Service