Manchester City rang the changes for their match against Newcastle United in the Premier League.
Much of the talk prior to the kick off involved the Manchester City team selection and especially the defensive options selected by Pep Guardiola.
John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi started together, with both needing to prove something to stake a claim to a regular starting berth. Joao Cancelo and Oleks Zinchenko reprised the full back roles, leaving the defence looking distinctly second string.
Here though was the combination of Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva on display in what may prove to be a final outing. And it was Silva who shined brightest.
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City started brightly with the ball and Newcastle looked sharp and physical, closing down the space and trying to restrict our play. City though are patient in these moments and waited for their chance.
The opening came in the 9th minute as quick passing saw David Silva free in the penalty area and he squared the ball to Gabriel Jesus who grabbed the chance for a goal. His goal drought – this is his first goal in 10 appearances – had seemingly weighed him down in recent matches and at least he is free of that.
Chances to add to the score fell to Riyad Mahrez who shot straight at the keeper and Phil Foden who dragged his shot wide. Newcastle were industrious but chasing shadows.
City’s second goal was scored by Mahrez after a beautiful move which started in defence and carved Newcastle apart. Kevin de Bruyne powered through to claim the assist and just 20 minutes in the contest appeared over.
Sometimes City put teams to the sword from this position but here we sat back a little. The intensity dropped and we allowed moments for Newcastle to come at us.
The biggest joy was watching the movement of De Bruyne who was in a free role,operating from right back, left back, defence and midfield. Popping up on the wing for his 18th League assist of the season so far.
Quite how we went into half time without adding to the score was a mystery. Foden was guilty of narrowly missing the best chance of the half.
The second half started in a similar way. Within minutes De Bruyne had carved out another chance and Foden had missed again.
The third goal was a great strike by Newcastle, but unfortunately for them it was into their own net. Fernandes curling the ball past the keeper after some great dribbling by Jesus.
Within 10 minutes City had a 4th goal. A free kick was snuck in by David Silva from the edge of the area and the City fans all started feeling emotional. On the strength of this performance Silva has at least another season in the top flight left in him.
City rotated the team, even bringing on 18 year old Tommy Doyle for his Premier League debut and largely just kept the ball. The minutes ticked away and I was left wondering about the loneliness Ederson must have been feeling in the City goal.
David Silva missed a gilt edged chance to add a 5th, taking a shot when others were clear for a pass.De Bruyne was clattered by Danny Rose, leading to some worried moments amongst the fans.
But it was the sublime quality of David Silva, silky in the pass and finding space and time as though he has a TARDIS of his own, which really illuminated the game.
In the 89th minute City added a 5th goal. David Silva squared for Raheem Sterling to slot in and there was barely time for the restart.
Another comfortable victory and some useful run outs for the players but this was little more than an exhibition match. Even in this game, City could have added more but 5-0 was probably fair.
Sterner tests await but at least we are another game closer to the FA Cup and Champions League.