Aguero continues ruthless streak vs. Newcastle with hat trick in City win
From playing your bogey side at a ground you never win at to playing your most pliable Premier League opponent, Manchester City could not have asked for a more appropriate fixture after the defeat at Liverpool. Needing to respond to last weekend's first setback of the season, City succeeded in the most encouraging way possible, playing their unstoppable passing in a 3-1 win over Newcastle. With the return of David Silva to rule the roost over midfield and a seamless performance from yet another left-back candidate Oleksandr Zinchenko, City's win puts them right back on track.
What a way to come back from what could have been a demoralising defeat on Merseyside last week. Ten first-half corners alone told the story of a side very keen to put the brief setback behind them. Sergio Aguero's hat trick also buried any lingering sadness that Alexis Sanchez has seemingly chosen to go elsewhere.
For a side delivering such crushing possession stats (80 percent on Saturday), it was interesting to see what happened when the laser passing finally broke down. Ironically, this occurred on the edge of the away side's penalty area as City pushed for a third goal. The outcome? A breakaway goal for Newcastle that suddenly reduced the score to 2-1.
Manager Rating out of 10
9 -- Yet another snapshot of how the manager's mind works: full-strength side, no holds barred, same crushing tactics, complete confidence in personnel (Zinchenko thrown in at left-back ahead of Danilo). Fortune favours the brave.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson, 7 -- Nothing at all to do until the second half, when he appeared to have the brainwave of taking a few risks to liven things up for himself. You could hardly blame him but his manager will be doing so for a couple of scary episodes deep in the second half. First serious action was coming out to meet Jacob Murphy's run and seeing the ball looped over him and into the goal.
DF Kyle Walker, 8 -- Much better than of late, involved, accurate and pacey in his right-wing bursts. Came into the match more after the break as City varied the side of attack more.
DF John Stones, 7 -- Calmest game since his comeback with the timing of passing better than of late. Early chance to put City ahead, but spent most of his time playing simple, safe balls across and backwards towards Ederson.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- As usual, the more adventurous of the central two at the back. Advanced regularly to join the attack, but also got his foot in on at least two crucial moments as Newcastle threatened.
DF Oleksandr Zinchenko, 8 -- Such calm authority from such an inexperienced stand-in, playing out of position. Very involved right from the start, with plenty of classy touches in the Silva, Leroy Sane triangles. Lovely cushioned pass on the volley showed a player full of confidence and poise.
MF Fernandinho, 8 -- Cool and authoritative with the telling foot in and the right choice of pass to launch his teammates forward. Great variation of pass, from the golf shot to chip Walker in down the right, which ended with Aguero going close, to the long diagonals switching play.
MF David Silva, 9 -- What a difference it makes to City's play to have the Spaniard orchestrating things. Range, choice and accuracy of pass peerless. Still biting enthusiastically into a double tackle in the 89th minute.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 8 -- Shares the responsibility these days with Silva for City's prodigious attacking threat. Often the deepest player to restart the push forward, he has a similarly tireless engine to club legend Colin Bell.
MF Leroy Sane, 8 -- Wasteful four-yard pass straight to a Newcastle defender did not bode well for the afternoon, but the German picked up the thread and, well before the end, was mesmerising the right side of the visiting defence. One of the finest pieces of skill of the season so far to run and weave through to set up Aguero's hat-trick goal. A frightening prospect for the future.
MF Raheem Sterling, 7 -- Isolated on the underused right side for much of the first period, he came into it much more after the break, running hard at the beleaguered defence. How Karl Darlow touched his volleyed finish onto the post, he will never know.
FW Sergio Aguero, 9 -- Newcastle's tormentor in chief had hardly touched the ball in the first half. With an average of a goal or assist every 31 minutes against this opponent, he amazingly kept up the record with a clinically taken hat trick, the first header-right foot-left foot hat trick in the top division since ... Sergio Aguero, against ... Newcastle United, in October 2015.
MF Bernardo Silva, NR -- Came on for Sterling after 85 minutes to carry the ball on the right. Held possession well.
MF Brahim Diaz, NR -- Late appearance after 87 minutes to replace Sane.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.