Manchester City continued their climb up the Premier League table as they cruised to a 2-0 win over struggling Newcastle United.
Goals in either half from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres were enough for Pep's men, who rise to fifth ahead of their clash with Everton on Monday evening.
It's now four Premier League matches without a win for Steve Bruce's men, who welcome Liverpool to St James Park on Wednesday.
Story of the Match
Manchester City took the lead with a little under 15 minutes on the clock and, whilst the scoresheet bares the name of Ilkay Gundogan, the goal was all about Raheem Sterling.
The Englishman was found in behind by Joao Cancelo and, whilst the temptation to have a pop at goal from the angle was evident, Sterling maintained his composure and pulled the ball back towards the German, whose first time finish left Karl Darlow with no chance.
City almost doubled their lead in bizarre circumstances just moments later as Kevin De Bruyne's left-sided cross got caught in the Manchester wind, with Darlow having to be vigilant to turn the ball away from goal.
With no Gabriel Jesus due to a positive COVID test and Sergio Aguero lacking in match fitness, it was summer signing Ferran Torres lining up in that number nine role for a second Premier League match in a row.
The Spaniard was quiet through the opening exchanges of the match but soon found himself with a great opportunity to double his sides lead.
However, despite taking the ball past Ciaran Clark, Torres saw a tame effort saved comfortably by Darlow between the Newcastle sticks.
Manchester City were at their clinical best during their 4-1 drubbing of Arsenal in midweek, but they were anything but in the first half, with De Bruyne the latest to spurn a gilt-edged chance with ten minutes to the half.
The Belgian was put in behind by Torres but never looked comfortable in taking the opportunity on, looking for a support run before opting to take the opportunity on himself, with Darlow saving smartly to keep his side in the contest.
Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure at half-time as his side went in with just the single goal as they looked to take advantage after Leicester City, Manchester United and Chelsea had all dropped points earlier in the day.
The second half began as the first had ended, with Manchester City dominating the ball, with John Stones the recipient of the first chance of the half.
The inform centre half made a hash of his headed effort, which turned out to be more of a pass than an effort on target despite being unmarked eight yards out.
It mattered little though, as Manchester City did double their advantage moments later.
Cancelo's low ball across the six-yard box looked to have been dealt with by Federico Fernandez but unfortunately for the Argentine, the ball ended at the feet of Ferran Torres, who had the simple task of tucking the ball home from ten yards out.
Pep took no time in making the changes either - presumably with one eye on Monday's trip to Goodison Park - with Rodri making way for Fernandinho.
Manchester City looked a different side in the second half and really should've made it three soon after as Sterling got his feet in a tangle when attempting to turn in a low cross before Bernardo Silva's follow in cannoned back off the woodwork.
The pace of the game slowed drastically following the second goal, with both sides seemingly happy to settle for what they had earned so far as the busy festive schedule continues.
Both sides made changes as the half wore on, with Andy Carroll and Jamal Lewis replacing Joelinton and Matt Ritchie for the visitors, whilst Sergio Aguero replaced Torres for the hosts.
Aguero has enjoyed his time against Newcastle over the years, and he very nearly found himself on the scoresheet against the Magpies yet again as he was found at the back post by the impressive Cancelo.
However, Darlow pulled off a miraculous stop to deny the Argentine what would've been his 16th goal against Newcastle.
Aguero was in amongst the action moments later, as his appeals for a penalty were waved away as Andre Mariner deemed Darlows challenge fair.
Replays show that the Argentine was offside regardless.
2-0 was how it ended, as Manchester City's steady climb towards the Premier League submit continues.
COVID Issues Continue
The absence of Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker proved to be mere formalities for Manchester City tonight, but the issue of COVID still looms large.
The visitors too were affected by the virus for yet another matchday, with Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamal Lascelles both missing out.
Gundogan's form continues
He's a player that splits opinion amongst Manchester City fans, but few can argue his form over recent weeks.
The German scored the opener for a second consecutive game at the Etihad, with his double pivot with Rodri proving pivotal for the hosts as their defensive shutouts continue.
Newcastle in real danger
It's now five without a win for Steve Bruce's men, and with a tricky run of fixtures to come, their plummet down the table looks likely to continue
With Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal to come over the next three matchdays, things look bleak for the Magpies.