Essentially football is a numbers game – the number of points, goals scored, goals conceded and, there’s a somewhat suspect algorithm that could ultimately add up to Premier League success for Manchester City.
It goes like this: 16 + 32 = 100% ÷13. If, by the end of the season, that equation has changed to 16 +32 =100% ÷34 then there’s every chance City’s Argentine strike force will be the prime numbers in the blue side of Manchester retaining their PL title.
The figures relate to the fact that whenever Sergio Aguero (number 16) and Carlos Tevez (number 32) have started together in the Premier League, City win. It’s happened 13 times so far, and if they can keep the sequence going for the remaining 21 matches of 2012/13, they would surely be number one in England once again.
A three-goal haul and a merited win in an entertaining encounter with a rejuvenated and resilient Newcastle United, represents the first step back to a robust defence of their crown.
Questions were inevitably going to be asked of Roberto Mancini’s team – one more slip up could leave Manchester United nine points clear in the run up to Christmas … surely an unassailable lead – where’ve we heard that before?
Mancini protested that his side played their best football of the season reeling in United from a two goal deficit last Sunday, only to be cruelly denied by the cowardice of one of their own.
Samir Nasri – rightfully castigated for going ‘Missing in Action’ – had something to prove. Having failed to put his body on the line last week, Nasri managed to get hit in his ‘tackle’ in a tackle with the Toon’s Gutierrez in the 34th minute. Two minutes later he was off, injured, and replaced by Kolarov.
But Nasri had upped his performance in his half-hour or so of play, setting up Aguero’s tap in goal, hitting the post with a low drive, and generally playing his part in a beautifully fluid City first half.
Newcastle had started the livelier forcing Joe Hart into a superb stop from Cisse in the second minute.
The Toon were in the ascendency until Yaya Toure, captain for the day, hit an exquisite 60 yard pass to Nasri who unselfishly squared the ball to Aguero in the six yard box. Sergio doesn’t miss those.
The Sky Blues slipped effortlessly into ‘This is why we’re Champions’ mode, mesmerising the Barcodes with precise passes and a free flowing style that blew many an opponent away last season.
But City were profligate in their finishing. Conversely, Newcastle were no slouches and the contradiction is that City could have won 7-1 or lost 4-3, such was the rich array of scoring opportunities.
If the PL title comes down to goal difference for a second consecutive year, City may well look back with regrets on the 3-1 scoreline.
Javi Garcia’s second goal for City was a just reward for an excellent all round performance. Much is expected from the Spaniard who is supposed to be an upgrade on fans cult hero Nigel De Jong.
Garcia had his best game in a City shirt and his power header was an almost carbon copy of his debut goal at Stoke.
At half time the only question related to the size of City’s winning margin. Shame nobody told Demba Ba.
The Toon hitman headed Newcastle into contention in the 50th minute as City’s offside trap was sprung.
Cue a United onslaught which Nastasic and Kolo did well to resist. Shorn of skipper Kompany and with stalwart Lescott on the bench, the blend of youth and experience held up. Zabaleta and Clichy provided admirable support on the flanks.
Merlin Silva was mesmerising, Tevez and Aguero constantly on the move and veritably buzzing, with Yaya at the hub of the action dictating play. The ‘Big Man’ was rewarded in the 77th minute as Silva laid the ball on for Zabaleta to drill low into the box.
Yaya nutmegged the Newcastle rearguard with a precision pass-cum-shot into Krul’s gaping goal. Relief at last with the victory achieved.
The unruly locals taunt of ‘You’re just a sh*t Man Utd’ were instantly drowned by 3,000 throaty ‘Mancs’ as St James’s Park, reverberated to one man’s name…’Mancini ohohoher, Mancini…he comes from Italy to manage Man City…’
Lescott replaced Tevez to see the win home and was a tower of strength in the City backline during the dying minutes.
Job done. Critics quietened for another week, Mancini fielding questions over Mario’s absence and Kolarov accused of racially abusing, wait for it… Albanian Geordies – you couldn’t make it up.Just another day at MCFC!