Manchester City give Newcastle United huge boost on Thursday night ahead of crunch FA Cup game
Newcastle United were last night given every encouragement by Manchester City in advance of Sunday’s match.
It was a huge game and eventual result for Chelsea,winning 2-1 and now five points clear of fifth.
Goals from Pulisic and Willian, either side of a brilliant Kevin de Bruyne free-kick, gave them the three points.
Newcastle already had the advantage of an extra day’s recovery, Manchester City having less than 72 hours before the game at St James Park.
However, there were numerous other positives for Newcastle fans as they watched Man City ensure Liverpool won the title.
Ahead of the game, Pep Guardiola at his pre-Chelsea press conference had indicated his team selection for the league match would be weakened with Newcastle in mind: ‘We cannot deny we have one eye on Newcastle. Chelsea is a prestigious game for us, but Newcastle is a final.’
In the event though, it was a full strength Manchester City team, with Ederson, Walker, Fernandinho, Laporte, Mendy, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gündogan, Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Sterling the starting eleven.
Looking at the bench (Jesus, Zinchenko, Sané, Silva, Otamendi, Carson, Doyle, Harwood-Bellis, Palmer) there was only probably David Silva you would have selected to improve that starting eleven.
With the result so important to Chelsea, it also ensured that this was a tough tough match, played at a high tempo and some tasty challenges flying in.
A big moment in the game and potentially for Sunday, saw Fernandinho give away a penalty for the match winning goal AND it now means he is suspended for Sunday.
Newcastle United will have also been heartened by Manchester City having one of those games where they control much of the ball (65% possession) but struggle to turn that into clear chances, whilst at the same time their defensive frailties exposed on the break.
Chelsea had only a third of the possession but 10 shots on target to City’s two.
Manchester City particularly had trouble with any direct running as Chelsea hit them on the break, even though not particularly quick, Pulisic ran alone at the last two Chelsea defenders on a break and by simple determination took advantage, went past them and scored the opening goal. Allan Saint-Maximin will have been licking his lips watching this.
Manchester City are still a brilliant team but last night pointed to Sunday being anything but a lost cause.
A disciplined defence and if creating decent situations on the break, Newcastle could be in business.
Add in Aguero now out for the rest of the season and room for NUFC hope, if not expectation.
Pep Guardiola after Manchester City defeat to Chelsea:
“Congratulations to Liverpool, their fans, the manager, the players. Well deserved. They are good champions.
“Now. we have five or six weeks to play. The FA Cup on Sunday is important and we need to achieve qualification for UCL and after that we need to prepare for Madrid.
“I’ve never thought as a manager that you can always win.
“Liverpool, after winning the Champions League and not winning the Premier League for 30 years, played with incredible focus as if it was the last chance they had.
“We cannot forget that we won two titles this season and we have two more to play for.”
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