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Thoughts on the Newcastle win

newcastle review
newcastle review

Sometimes it's not a defeat that it is telling, but what it does to the side in the long run.

Following the reversal against Everton, the trip to Newcastle was the first of four games over the Christmas and New Year period that - with results and postponements elsewhere last weekend - meant City could quickly banish the memory of defeat last Monday evening.

And how quickly it was banished. 

If City knew the difficulty in coming back from an early two-goal deficit, it was a blueprint they were keen to follow as goals from Gareth Barry and Carlos Tevez put the side ahead with barely six minutes on the clock. If City were guilty of dishing out Festive goodwill for Tim Cahill's opener previously, Newcastle were even more complicit as Tevez intercepted Krul's wayward pass to slot Barry in who made no mistake.

The crowd had barely quietened when it was two; James Milner (preferred to Adam Johnson to replace Mario Balotelli) delivered a pinpoint cross for Tevez to slide home. 2-0 up early in the game and City's recent Boxing Day form (unbeaten since 2005) looked set to continue.

When taking the lead this season City's form is impressive. No, make that very impressive. When going ahead in twelve games this season (including yesterday's win at St. James's Park) City have won 10 drawn one and lost one: 31 points from a possible 36. As we all know, this City, and Mancini's ethos, is well suited to holding a lead: maintaining and controlling possession, an emphasis on ball retention and attacking with pace and threat on the break.

Perhaps City had taken the lead too early yesterday however. Although two goals to the good City hadn't had time to establish themselves in the game and as Jack points out, they never quite got the passing game together over the game as a whole. As a result, it was a scrappier win than some previously seen this seen, or really needed to be.

Inevitably with so much time on the clock, Newcastle were going to get opportunities to create and either side of half-time - and despite having space when breaking forward - City stuttered a little. A lack of ball retention and control means you can only stem an attack for so long. So much though went through Carroll, who looked an impressive (if heavily relied upon) figure. Although effective, Newcastle went a little too direct to him for the most part: as good as he is in the air, he is no slouch on the ground. Much was made of Roberto Mancini's post-match 'overtures' and I'm sure Mancini does have him on the radar (along with Edin Dezeko of course) given the paucity of options behind Tevez - not to mention an alternative to iron out some of the wrinkles experienced at home when space is much more difficult to find and exploit.

It was Carroll who pulled the goal back, heading home from a Barton delivery for the fifth such time this season. A nervy finish threatened but when Kevin Nolan conspired to miss from two yards out, maybe the chance had gone. Minutes later Tevez - aided by a deflection - had added a second and put an end to the game.

I envisaged a seven point return from the three games before heading to Arsenal. Despite the struggles experienced at home this season, it should realistically be nine now. Aston Villa are in a tailspin, whilst Blackpool should allow too many opportunities (ie, they won't set up to park the bus). Although having played more games, City sit in second: two points off United, but three clear of Arsenal, four ahead of Chelsea and five more than Tottenham.

Contrary to the past couple of seasons, the position in the table owes much more to away form than at home. Six wins from ten so far in 2010/11 and twenty points from thirty. As we get into the second-half of the season, the questions will no doubt be how long can City remain in contention. If they can overcome some of the problems in their home form there is no question that they are going to be there for the long run.