- Tom Cayless
Record-breaking City top Premier League at Christmas – Newcastle 0-4 Manchester City Review
During a week full of called-off games, Pep Guardiola's side were still in action as they travelled up to the North-East to face Eddie Howe's Newcastle United. The Premier League leaders ran out 4-0 winners in a game that broke multiple records.
Goals from Ruben Dias, Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling all helped City bring all three points back to Manchester and there was a couple of excellent goals in there too.
With City being one of the few teams that haven't been affected by a COVID-19 outbreak, Pep Guardiola had a full squad apart from Ferran Torres, who is still injured, and Kyle Walker, absent through illness.
Here is the side the boss opted to go with:
The Blues started in brilliant fashion with an early goal, through captain Ruben Dias. Joao Cancelo was played in behind the Newcastle defence, by Rodri, and chipped a ball into the six-yard area. Poor communication from Kieran Clark and Martin Dubravka allowed Dias a free-header from close range and the Portuguese centre-half made no mistake.
27 minutes in, City had a second and what a beauty it was. Cancelo picked up the ball halfway into the Newcastle half in what was just a normal-looking spell of possession. He skipped past Joe Willock and then as momentum gathered past Issac Hayden. Following that came the strike, Cancelo unleashed a ferocious effort from just outside the penalty area and it ripped the back of the net.
Five minutes after City's second, they were let off the hook with a penalty appeal from the Toon. Ryan Fraser was played through and Ederson came out and wiped out the Scotsman. VAR reasoning was because Cancelo was there to take the ball, but there's no doubt City were lucky with that one.
City started the second 45 better than the first, even though the visitors didn't score, they seemed to have more control and recycled the ball with more confidence - in the first 15 minutes City had 81% possession of the ball.
In the 63rd minute, City did get their third. Oleksandr Zinchenko was given space to cross from the left-hand side. He whipped the ball across goal to Riyad Mahrez, the Algerian right winger caught the ball on the volley and buried it into the bottom corner impressively.
With only 10 minutes to go, and City just deading out the game and crowd, Ederson made a brilliant save from a Callum Wilson header, which was the Magpies' first shot on target.
As the home fans left for the turnstiles, the travelling City fans witnessed another goal. Cancelo zipped across a wonderful ball to Gabriel Jesus who was out wide left. The 24-year-old beat Jacob Murphy and squared across to Sterling who tapped in an empty net.
Ederson (8) Cancelo (9) Dias (8) Laporte (8) Zinchenko (7) Rodri (7) De Bruyne (7) Silva (7) Sterling (8) Jesus (7.5) Mahrez (8)
Substitutes: Fernandihno (6) Stones (6) Palmer (N/A)
It may have not been a vintage City display, and they have certainly performed better this season, but with the title race heating up three points are more vital than ever. The second half was a lot better, things clicked and City became more compact after being stretched in the first - something Guardiola has previously stated they can't play like.
The Blues next are scheduled to host Leicester City, whether the game goes ahead is yet to be seen as Leicester's previous game was called off due to COVID-19. One thing is for certain, City are going into Christmas at the summit of the Premier League.
Records set by Manchester City
Most wins in a calendar year of any team in England's top-flight - 34
Most away wins of any team in the top-flight in a single year - 18
Most goals in a calendar year (Premier League era) - 106
Written by: @TomCayless_
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