Hello and welcome to Sports Mole
's live text coverage of the Premier League meeting between Manchester City
and Newcastle United
at the Etihad Stadium. The Citizens are aiming to get back on track this evening after dropping their first points
of the season away at Wolverhampton Wanderers a week ago, leaving them five adrift of league leaders Liverpool with this game in hand to play.
Chelsea can also move to 12 points from 12 this afternoon, although they are currently being held by Bournemouth with a quarter of that match left to play, so the pressure is on City to get back to winning ways today. Newcastle, on the other hand, have yet to really get going this term as they have lost two - albeit against Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea - and drawn one of their three matches.
MANCHESTER CITY TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Mendy;Fernandinho; Mahrez, D.Silva, Sterling; Jesus, Aguero
SUBS: Muric, Kompany, Gundogan, Delph, Bernardo, Otamendi, Foden
City boss Pep Guardiola
suggested in the week that he would go with two up top for today's game, and that indeed is the case as Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero - who boasts a pretty incredible record in this fixture down the years - are partnered together in attack. Jesus's return to the side is one of three changes from the 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers seven days ago.
Riyad Mahrez, who was talked up by Guardiola on the eve of this match following a pretty slow start to life at the Etihad Stadium, is also brought into the starting lineup, as it John Stones in defence. Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Vincent Kompany drop down to the bench as City go with a possible 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formation. That will depend on where exactly Raheem Sterling
features - will it be out wide in a four-man midfield or wide in a three-man attack?
David Silva, who has been handed the captain's armband again this evening, is one goal away from the magic 50 in the Premier League. This is also a special occasion for Raheem Sterling, running out in Man City colours for the 100th time in the top flight. No Kevin De Bruyne, Danilo or Eliaquim Mangala for the home side, however, with those three players being ruled out for the long term.
NEWCASTLE UNITED TEAM NEWS!
STARTING XI: Dubravka; Yedlin, Clark, Fernandes, Lascelles, Dummett; Diame, Ki, Kenedy, Perez; Rondon
SUBS: Darlow, Sterry, Atsu, Longstaff, Murphy, Muto, Joselu
Three changes for City, then, and three alterations for Newcastle on the back of their 2-1 loss at the hands of Chelsea last weekend. Skipper Jamaal Lascelles is restored to the starting lineup after two matches on the sidelines with an ankle injury, while Kenedy is back following his ineligibility against Chelsea and Ayoze Perez provides a different alternative in the attack line.
Joselu netted his sixth Premier League goal for Newcastle in the defeat to Chelsea, with each of those now coming at St James' Park, but he is among those to drop out of the side. No change in the formation deployed by Rafael Benitez
, though, as the Spaniard - despite his growing critics - continues to go with five across the back. Paul Dummett is on the left and DeAndre Yedlin
on the right, while the returning Lascelles partners Ciaran Clark and Federico Fernandez in the heart of defence.
Young duo Jamie Sterry and Sean Longstaff are again included in the matchday squad, which is perhaps Benitez's way of telling owner Mike Ashley that he is not entirely pleased with his squad depth. Defender Isaac Hayden is absent today as he sits out the third of his three-match ban, and there is also no sign of the injured Matt Ritchie nor Jonjo Shelvey - a big loss for the visitors.
Manchester City and Newcastle United make three changes apiece for today's clash at the Etihad Stadium. The big talking point, though, is that Leroy Sane is left out of the Citizens' squad entirely. Certain reports put that down to a falling out between last term's PFA Young Player of the Year and manager Pep Guardiola in training.
PREVIOUS MEETINGS! Manchester City have gone 21 top-flight meetings without defeat against Newcastle United, winning all but three of those, which is their longest such run against a single opponent and the Magpies' worst. United have lost on their last nine visits to this ground, in fact, conceding 32 goals in the process.
City head into this match on the back of a 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend, as they dropped points in the Premier League for the first time this season. Prior to that surprise setback, the Citizens had brushed aside Arsenal 2-0 at the Emirates Stadium - a week after doing likewise against Chelsea in the Community Shield - and then put six past Huddersfield Town on home soil.
Aymeric Laporte powered his header past Rui Patricio to salvage a point for City, and on reflection that was not the worst of results for the Citizens as they were given a real run for their money. That 69th-minute leveller ensured that City have still lost just once against a newly-promoted side in their last 30 outings, but Guardiola knows that his side must improve if they are to get back to winning ways today.
Three points this evening with have Guardiola's men on par with last term when they went on to accrue a century of points, setting countless record along the way. Ten points from the first 12 on offer is not the worst return, of course, especially when factoring in a trip to Arsenal to kick things off, but Liverpool and now Chelsea have put together perfect runs to begin the 2018-19 season.
Last weekend's match with Wolves saw City conceded first in a match for the first time in 18 outings since a 4-3 loss to Liverpool in mid-January, giving them a chance to show their character in battling back from behind. Guardiola will need to alter his gameplan this evening as Newcastle will be far more reserved than Wolves, explaining why Jesus has been brought in to partner the prolific Aguero up top.
Aguero will likely be the key man for the hosts again today, as he so often is in the fixture - the Argentinian striker has scored 14 goals in 11 Premier League meetings with today's opponents, including eight in the last two at the Etihad Stadium. Four of those came when the sides faced off in January and another hat-trick followed in January's meeting. All-in-all, Aguero has 12 goals in seven home outings this calendar year.
Mahrez has also been brought into the starting lineup today and is eager to get his Etihad Stadium career up and running, having impressed in busts so far and nothing more. The Algerian winger was City's only senior addition during the summer window, but Benjamin Mendy, your typical 'like a new signing', has been hugely impressive out wide and Bernardo Silva - benched today - has also pushed on after settling in.
Kevin De Bruyne's absence was felt at times against Wolves as City probed away, and others will now have to step up to fill the Belgian's void over the next couple of months. Fourteen goals scored in their last four home outings since losing to Manchester United is not bad going at all, though, with six of those coming in the thrashing of Huddersfield a fortnight ago. Newcastle will be desperate to avoid a repeat of that scoreline.
DID YOU KNOW?
Manchester City have won all seven Premier League games under Pep Guardiola
in the month of September, scoring 26 goals and conceding just two. Guardiola is unbeaten in 41 outings in the ninth month of the year, in fact, stretching back to a shock loss at the hands of La Liga minnows Hercules when manager of Barcelona eight years ago.
Manchester City finished last season with the best home record in the division, dropping points here just three times. The 3-2 loss to Man United merely delayed their inevitable title success, while Everton and Huddersfield Town also held on for draws between August and the middle of May.
This is the first of three home outings for the Citizens, as they also welcome Fulham after the international break and then face Lyon in their opening Champions League group fixture. Then comes back-to-back away matches against Cardiff City in the Premier League and Oxford United in the EFL Cup third round. The aim for Guardiola, of course, is to still be going strong in those three competitions come the end of the month.
Newcastle started the day sitting 16th in the table following a slow start to their second season back at this level, and they have since dropped into the relegation zone. This game is hand has to be considered a bonus, though, and it looks likely that they will head into the international break sitting inside the bottom three. One point from the first 12 on offer is what Benitez always feared.
Benitez brought in the likes of Fabian Schar, Salomon Rondon, Federico Fernandez and Yoshinori Muto during the summer, but Newcastle still made a £20m profit on player sales as others headed the opposite way. Some suggested that Benitez should not have complained, having effectively added to the squad that somehow finished in the top half last time out, but that achievement was all down to the Spaniard's work - he deserved far more backing from Mike Ashley.
Despite all the doom and gloom, Newcastle gave a goof account of themselves in their opening match - a 2-1 loss at home to Tottenham. The Magpies should have come away from that match with a point, but their inability to finish, which plagued them throughout pre-season, once again cost them a share of the spoils. The less said about the goalless draw to Cardiff City the better, though, having failed to get out of first gear that afternoon.
Newcastle, incredibly, could have left South Wales with all three points as Kenedy missed a last-gasp penalty. United did not exactly show enough to deserve the win, though, and that left them under a bit of pressure for the visit of Chelsea last weekend. Much like against Tottenham, the Magpies impressed at time and so nearly held the Blues to a draw. If not for a late DeAndre Yedlin own goal, after Joselu had cancelled out Eden Hazard's opener, United would have had another point to their name.
The biggest talking point from the 2-1 loss to Chelsea was Newcastle's gameplan, having ended with possession stats of just 19%. The Magpies were happy to park the bus, so to speak, and for all Benitez's critics it so nearly paid off. Three players were making their debuts at st James' Park, though that can hardly be used as an excuse, with the Spaniard now famed for his overly-defensive tactics against the big-six sides.
Indeed, United lost all eight Premier League games away at the top eight last term and did not exactly come away from those fixtures with much credit. Their average possession of 33.5% this term is the lowest of all 20 teams in the division, meanwhile, and that figure is only likely to decrease come 7pm tonight as Man City will completely dominate the ball this evening.
It is now three draws and four defeats for Newcastle in their last seven matches stretching into pre-season, while in the league they have one win in eight - that coming against Chelsea on the final day of last season. Questions are starting to be asked of Benitez after pulling off minor heroics last time out, particularly on the back of their midweek EFL Cup exit to Nottingham Forest when making seven changes, while supporters are unhappy and certain players are in dispute.
With kickoff now just a couple of minutes away, let us gather some pre-match thoughts from both camps, discussing Benitez's tactics and a supposed falling out between Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie.
Pep Guardiola: "Rafa Benitez did the same against us last season, so we have to adapt. Obviously the quality of our play will be important. After two minutes, I will know what idea our opponents are using, and we have to train hard to adapt to it. Last year, when we dropped points we recovered well and that is why we had a good season."
Rafael Benitez: "In all my life as a player and a coach, every year you have two or three situations in the dressing room during a game, or during a training session, when something happens between players. Why? Because they want to win, they care. You want competitive professionals - we have competitive professionals and I think it's very positive."
KICKOFF: We are up and running at the Etihad Stadium, where Manchester City are aiming to extend their impressive run against Newcastle United and close the gap at the top of the table in the process. Chelsea and Liverpool have won four from four... can the Citizens match them?
As expected, the home side are completely bossing possession in the early stages of the match. Newcastle are having to form a compact shape at the back, and the onus is very much on the Citizens to break them down across the 90 minutes.
SHOT! City find space for the first time this evening; Riyad Mahrez cutting inside from the right but dragging his shot wide of the post. The Algerian probably should have been doing better from that position - an early let-off for Newcastle.
Newcastle have still barely had a touch of the ball, other than when clearing their lines. The visitors have a chance to launch the ball into the opposition box from a free kick, but they bizarrely opt to go back to Martin Dubravka.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 NEWCASTLE UNITED (RAHEEM STERLING)
GOAL! Chelsea may have struggled to break down this overly-defensive Newcastle side last weekend, but it has taken Man City less than 10 minutes to find a way through. A simple goal for Raheem Sterling, yet brilliantly taken as he cuts inside two men and bends it out of Martin Dubravka's reach.
City are in control of the ball and now have that early goal to build on - just don't expect them to sit back and protect the slender lead! That opening goal came following some sloppy play from Newcastle, with Lascelles in particular looking shaky.
David Sterling chests the ball into his path and volleys a cross into the middle for it to be cleared away. The Citizens cruising through the early stages of this match and look good value for a second goal.
This is Sterling's 100th league appearance for City, and what a way to mark it! A sloppy pass in midfield was pounced on the by the Citizens and, seconds later, the English winger was putting the ball out of Dubravka's reach.
City have been dominant without really creating too much, besides their goal. Riyad Mahrez cut in from the right and dragged a shot wide in a near carbon-copy of Sterling's opener from the other side, but that is it in terms of chances.
SHOT! Sergio Aguero, who boasts that impressive goalscoring record against Newcastle, goes for the same corner that Raheem Sterling found a little earlier. From longer range, though, the Argentinian striker's curler ends wide of the target.
SAVE! City get another shot away on target, this time from Aguero's strike partner Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian, like Sterling and Mahrez before him, cut inside from a wide position and curled a shot down the middle for Dubravka to gather.
The home side look as though they are ready to double their tally for the evening at any moment, which begs the question: Does Benitez change things at the break? At 1-0 he certainly won't; two behind he may consider switching formation.
Good vision from Fernandinho, who looked to pick out the run of Riyad Mahrez from deep. Equally as good goalkeeping from Martin Dubravka, though, as the goalkeeper came well of his line to grab the ball before Mahrez could reach it.
City's formation is something like a 4-1-3-2, with Fernandinho the only midfielder interested in protecting the back four. Today was always going to be about attack vs. defence, so Guardiola's tactics make sense. City lead 1-0 with 27 minutes gone.
CHANCE! A nice, whipped delivery into the box is crying out for Gabriel Jesus to head past Martin Dubravka. The Brazilian striker did not get enough contact on the ball, though, and Dubravka was able to scramble it clear. City cannot seem to find that second goal.
Newcastle offering a little more in the attacking third over the past five minutes or so, but they have yet to muster any sort of shooting opportunity. A punt from deep into the box is gathered by Ederson, who has had next to nothing to do.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED (DEANDRE YEDLIN)
Incredible! From their first serious attacking move of the contest, Newcastle draw themselves level. Salomon Rondon did well to hold up the ball towards the left and then sent in a cross for DeAndre Yedlin to latch on to, firing a first-time shot past Ederson for his first Premier League goal.
To say that goal came against the run of play would be a serious understatement. Man City have not made the most of their possession, however, and it was always likely to remain tense unless they added a second goal to their tally.
Now Newcastle just need to hold on for the remaining 55 minutes! Full credit to the Magpies for making the most of their one chance when it arrived, and it did come during a five-minute spell that saw them finally get out of their own half.
Man City win a free kick in a dangerous position, which Sergio Aguero can only send into the opposition wall. Gabriel Jesus then wriggled free of a couple of players and blasted a low shot into a sea of bodies, winning his side a corner kick.
Half time is now five minutes away and City are not really looking like scoring at the moment. The Citizens remain the side on top, with Newcastle happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, but they cannot find a way through the United wall.
This first half is petering out a little, which will suit Benitez just fine. A ball into the box takes a deflection before Martin Dubravka gathered, and from the next move David Silva could not find a way through once getting in behind.
gets a cross into the box from close to the byline which is comfortably gathered by Martin Dubravka, who has been by far the busier of the two goalkeepers. With half time moments away, however, it is all square at the Etihad.
HALF TIME: MANCHESTER CITY 1-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED
The whistle sounds for half time, bringing an end to an opening 45 minutes dominated by Manchester City. Despite seeing 76% of the ball and taking an early lead through Raheem Sterling, however, it is all square at the interval thanks to DeAndre Yedlin's strike.
In the knowledge that Newcastle would sit back and soak up the pressure, a week on from ending their meeting against Chelsea with 19% of the ball, Pep Guardiola partnered returning striker Gabriel Jesus with Sergio Aguero in one of three changes. City, as expected, completely dominated possession from the off and were in their stride inside the opening five minutes as Riyad Mahrez - another of those to return to the side - cut inside from the right and dragged a shot wide.
Raheem Sterling fared better from the opposite flank a few minutes later, bending the ball out of Martin Dubravka's reach following some sloppy defending from the visitors. Boasting 14 league goals in 11 outings against United before this match, Sergio Aguero fancied his chances of adding to that tally as he curled a long ranger narrowly wide of the same corner that Sterling had earlier found.
A couple of openings came and went for Gabriel Jesus, shooting wide from a good position and then failing to head past Dubravka from six yards out, and City's profligacy would come back to haunt them half an hour in. From near enough United's first serious attacking move of the match, DeAndre Yedlin charged up the field to convert Salomon Rondon's centre as City's backline got caught out by the counter.
MANCHESTER CITY SUBS: Muric, Kompany, Gundogan, Delph, Bernardo, Otamendi, Foden
NEWCASTLE UNITED SUBS: Darlow, Sterry, Atsu, Longstaff, Murphy, Muto, Joselu
KICKOFF: We are back under way at the Etihad Stadium, where neither manager has made any changes at the break. Manchester City did not fail to win in back-to-back games throughout the whole of last season - that will be the case today unless they net at least once.
Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Fabian Delph have been sent to warm-up for Man City, so we may well see a change or two before the hour mark if things do not improve. The Citizens, remember, trail Liverpool and Chelsea by four points as things stand.
David Silva's free kick is hit straight into the wall, and from the follow-up attempt Riyad Mahrez skied the ball into the stands. Five minutes into the second half and the Citizens' fortunes do not appear to have improved a great deal.
It has been a pretty uneventful start to the second half of this final Premier League clash of the day. Newcastle have had one shot of any note all evening - on target or otherwise - and it resulted in their equaliser. Nothing has changed since then.
GOAL! MANCHESTER CITY 2-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED (KYLE WALKER)
The intricate passing clearly wasn't working for City, so Kyle Walker took matters into his own hands. From a good 30 yards out, the defender cut across the ball and sent it arrowing out of Martin Dubravka's reach. What a hit!
NEWCASTLE UNITED SUB! Kenedy, who made minimal impact in the opening 45 minutes, is replaced by Christian Atsu on the back of Man City's second goal. Still plenty of time for United to bag another goal against the run of play.
Newcastle's second attempt of the evening comes via Paul Dummett, whose shot from distance was never going to trouble Ederson. A little over half an hour of the match to play and, while City are in control, they know the points are not in the bag.
SAVE! Gabriel Jesus scrambles the ball into the net but the offside flag was already up. Before that, Kyle Walker almost caught out Martin Dubravka with his shot from an angled free kick. Bernardo Silva is now on for Gabriel Jesus.
City probing away for a third goal, which would surely kill off their opponents. As long as it remains 2-1, Guardiola will not be able to relax easily, perhaps explaining his decision to bring on a midfielder for a striker.
The home side have seen 80% of the ball in the second half, but they have been far from their best. For all the probing away, they have created minimal chances and that second goal came through some individual brilliance from long range.
Nothing is quite coming off for Riyad Mahrez on his first Premier League start for Man City. Guardiola must surely be tempted to make another change, with less than 25 minutes of normal time now left to play at the Etihad Stadium.
SAVE! Newcastle are holding on now. Some good play from City, culminating in Fernandinho's first-time finish at the back post being saved by Dubravka, before David Silva had two shots kept out in quick succession. Three saves in about five seconds!
With 20 minutes to go at the Etihad Stadium, Man City are still not home and dry. A Riyad Mahrez cross towards the back post was met by David Silva, but the Spaniard could only direct his header into the ground and wide of the target.
City have moved up to 82% possession for the evening. Guardiola would not doubt take full time now, with three points on the board, but it has not exactly been a vintage display from the reigning champions. Even they are allowed the odd off day!
Raheem Sterling blasts the ball wide of the target from a good position when under pressure. The Citizens, desperate for that third goal, are holding off from making a second change. Joselu is being readied for the visitors...
NEWCASTLE UNITED SUB! A second change for Rafael Benitez, with Joselu - responsible for two of Newcastle's three league goals this term - coming on for Salomon Rondon for the final stages of the match.
MANCHESTER CITY SUB! I've not been entirely convinced by Riyad Mahrez during his first month at the club. Not the worst of displays from the Algerian winger today, but a little more is required if he is to hold down a spot in the side. Ilkay Gundogan is on in his place.
John Stones gets his head to a cross into the box, but he is unable to get enough power on it to get the better of star man Martin Dubravka. Jacob Murphy is being readied to come on for Newcastle - an attacking change for the last 10 minutes.
NEWCASTLE UNITED SUB! Jacob Murphy is brought on for Ciaran Clark, so Benitez is clearly happy to go for it in these last 10 minutes. It really would be a snatch-and-grab if the Magpies can find a second goal here.
Kyle Walker's belter is looking like being the difference between the two sides as we enter the final six minutes of the match. Benitez has made all three of his changes, while Guardiola can still turn to one more player should he wish.
A worrying moment for City as Newcastle spring a counter and have a couple of players screaming for the ball in the box. The cross from the left is well cut out in the middle and the hosts are able to clear their lines.
Less than five minutes of normal time to play now and it is very tense around the Etihad Stadium. There has been little goalmouth action over the last 10 minutes, but United are now starting to take more risks to set up an entertaining finale.
SAVE! A loose ball is latched on to by Joselu, who turned on the edge of the box and got a shot away. It was on target, too, but John Stones produced a block to take the sting out of it. City starting to look a little nervy now.
MANCHESTER CITY SUB! Off comes David Silva after putting in a good shift, replaced by skipper Vincent Kompany to see things through. A special occasion for the Belgian, who celebrates 10 years at the club.
Dubravka saves at the feet of Aguero and the City striker was unable to find the net from the rebound, despite having plenty of the target to aim for. Time fast running out for Newcastle to snatch a late goal here.
FULL TIME: MANCHESTER CITY 2-1 NEWCASTLE UNITED
The referee brings the contest to a conclusion, with Manchester City deserving winners in the end. It was a lot tighter than many would have expected - myself included - after Raheem Sterling broke down Newcastle United's defensive wall eight minutes in. The Magpies held firm and levelled up for 22 minutes, but in the end the Citizens' quality told.
That concludes Sports Mole
's live text coverage of events from the Etihad Stadium. An on-the-whistle report can be found by clicking here
, and you can follow updates from Real Madrid's home match against Leganes in La Liga right here
. Thanks for joining!