Manchester City made it two wins in two as they defeated Newcastle 1-0 in the Premier League’s late kickoff.

Julián Álvarez scored the only goal in what was a far from perfect performance by Pep Guardiola’s side, as they joined Brighton and Hove Albion at the top of the Premier League table. 

  • Julián Álvarez Is A More Than Capable Riyad Mahrez Replacement

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Julian Alvarez of <b><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/manchester-city' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/manchester-city'>Manchester City</a></b> celebrates the first goal with Phil Foden of <b><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/manchester-city' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/manchester-city'>Manchester City</a></b> during the <b><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/premier-league' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/premier-league'>Premier League</a></b> match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Neal Simpson/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
 (Photo by Neal Simpson/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Álvarez was the hero of the game, with his wonderful 31st-minute strike the only goal to separate the sides. He showed that he can turn up in crucial moments for the Citizens, which will be needed after a busy offseason on the blue half of Manchester. 

Man City lost Mahrez as well as İlkay Gündoğan this summer, and it is not certain whether Bernardo Silva will be around after the end of the transfer deadline.

What City had with these three, particularly in Mahrez and Gündoğan, was players who turned up when it matters in the biggest of occasions. 

Álvarez showed signs of being this type of player, with a goal in City’s second leg win over Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final, as well as goals in crucial wins over Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham, but was only limited to 13 starts in the league as a result of the players at City’s disposal. 

It was not only for City where Álvarez showed his importance when it matters. In the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he scored in a crucial final group stage game win over Poland, as well as the winner in Argentina’s last 16 win over Australia and two goals in their semi-final triumph over Croatia.

He has already earned two starts in City’s start to their title defence, which is a promising sign towards his role as a frequent starter in the team.  

  • Newcastle suffer from a lack of end product.    

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Manchester City player Kyle Walker (l) challenges Anthony Gordon of Newcastle during the <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/19/premier-league/1153805-man-city-1-0-newcastle-alvarez-and-foden-combine-to-secure-city-win.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/19/premier-league/1153805-man-city-1-0-newcastle-alvarez-and-foden-combine-to-secure-city-win.html'>Premier League</a></strong> match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

This sounds crazy, considering their 5-1 win over Aston Villa. However, Newcastle simply didn’t have that cutting edge when the opportunities were presented to them. 

Newcastle had seven shots, but only one on target. Alexander Isak started ahead of Callum Wilson, as he did against Villa, but failed to get into the game. He suffered from a lack of service and was subbed off in the 65th minute. 

City controlled possession (60%), but Newcastle failed to make the most when they found themselves approaching the home side’s penalty box. Whether it was shots way off target or crosses sent into a hopeless void, Newcastle failed to show any carryover from their emphatic opening weekend victory.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: <b><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/erling-haaland' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/data/erling-haaland'>Erling Haaland</a></b> of Manchester City in action during the <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/19/premier-league/1153795-man-city-1-0-newcastle-post-match-player-ratings.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/19/premier-league/1153795-man-city-1-0-newcastle-post-match-player-ratings.html'>Premier League</a></strong> match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Neal Simpson/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
(Photo by Neal Simpson/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)

Haaland didn’t have his best game today, but he was still a threat when he was given an opportunity.

Whenever Haaland doesn’t score, he is hardly a big feature of a game, as is the nature of his style of play. In this game, he missed a couple chances but was still a handful for the Magpies. Whether it was a convincing effort or not, Haaland forced a save from Nick Pope and also dragged a couple of shots wide. 

City will need more from the Norwegian in the big games, however, they can be safe in the knowledge that he can still pop up and cause goalkeepers problems at any time,

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Phil Foden of Manchester City and <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/12/premier-league/1153266-four-things-we-learnt-as-newcastle-destroy-aston-villa-5-1.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/12/premier-league/1153266-four-things-we-learnt-as-newcastle-destroy-aston-villa-5-1.html'>Sandro Tonali</a></strong> of Newcastle United during the <strong><a  data-cke-saved-href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/19/premier-league/1153793-tottenham-2-0-manchester-united-postecoglou-era-yields-first-victory.html' href='https://www.vavel.com/en/football/2023/08/19/premier-league/1153793-tottenham-2-0-manchester-united-postecoglou-era-yields-first-victory.html'>Premier League</a></strong> match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on August 19, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Tonali made the headlines off the pitch this week, being seemingly pranked by a teammate who recommended a trip to Wetherspoons. In the loss to City, he was given an even harsher lesson.

Up against Rodri in the midfield battle, it was always going to be a test against the best player in the world in that position. Tonali made the dream start to life on Tyneside with a goal inside six minutes last weekend but was off his game in the loss to City. He was seen losing possession easily in an important part of the pitch and was subbed off in the 65th minute. 

Newcastle fans should not be too disheartened with this performance, in what is only his second-ever Premier League game. After all, Luka Modrić was deemed the worst signing of the season in his first 12 months at Real Madrid.