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Five Things Learned: Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United (FA Cup Quarter-Final)



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Two deflected Bernardo Silva goals capped off a dominant display from Manchester City as they advanced to the FA Cup semi-finals for the sixth year in a row.

Manchester City’s semi-final opponent will be announced after Sunday’s games, with the draw currently scheduled to take place immediately following the Manchester United-Liverpool match.

Despite going into the match with a few key players sidelined due to injury, Pep Guardiola’s side needed little time to take full control of the match and took a commanding early lead.

Manchester City took the lead in the 13th minute when Bernardo’s effort from the right side of the box took a favorable deflection off of Dan Burn and flew over Dubravka into the net. 

Newcastle’s attempt to sit with five-at-the-back and wait for the counter ended up being the cause of the goal, as the deep block caused the deflection and left Dubravka hopeless. 

Bernardo was able to double City’s lead in the 31st minute in almost identical fashion. However, this time the Portuguese midfielder took his chance from the edge of the box and it deflected off of Sven Botman and away from a diving Dubravka. 

It was a dominating first-half for City, who held Newcastle to under 25% possession and just one shot – although Eddie Howe has had some success against Guardiola’s squad as of late, Newcastle spent most of the first-half pushed deep into their own box. 

The second-half wasn’t much better for the Magpies who were unable to take back any control they had lost in the opening 45 minutes.

City had a few opportunities to extend the lead to three in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half, but Doku and Haaland were unable to convert their chances.

Here are the five things we learned from Manchester City’s FA Cup win over Newcastle United!

Control has returned

Newcastle’s two shot attempts were the lowest any team has had against Manchester City since the 1-0 away win against Tottenham in January, which coincidentally was in the fourth round of this competition.

Phil Foden and Bernardo, who usually swap time out on the right wing, were deployed more centrally with Kyle Walker overlapping on the touchline. Doku also spent more time than usual in central areas. 

The extra bodies in midfield allowed City to control the centre of the pitch, which has been a struggle against deep blocks at times this season. While this strategy might not work against sides who are more willing to press, it allowed Manchester City to have one of their most dominant performances of the season. 

Kovacic continues to prove how vital he is

It’s never easy replacing a club legend, and that’s exactly what Matteo Kovacic was asked to do when replacing Ilkay Gundogan, fresh off of winning a treble.

Unfortunately for Kovacic, he is a very different profile of player to the former captain. The downside to that is the lack of goalscoring from midfield, but Kovacic’s ability to carry and progress the ball is something that City have not had in their squad for some time. 

City looked miles better when he came on late against Liverpool, and once again the Croatian showed his excellence against Newcastle.

Doku showing signs of the second-half breakout year

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A Manchester City player needing a full season before finally fitting into the system.

While their have been exceptions during Guardiola’s tenure, this is a formula that has been followed for there vast majority of signings.

Doku has dazzled, at times. However, it’s clear the Belgian has needed to improve his decision making in the final third. While he is still not a finished product, the former Rennes winger has looked more composed and controlled on the ball, and operated in a much more central role against Newcastle, and it was one of his best performances of the season.

Expect next year to be even better.

Attacking right back will be needed

The instructions for the match highlighted the need for a full-back who has the ability to attack from the wide right. Walker is months away from turning 34, there are a lot of minutes on those legs and crossing has never been his strongest attribute. 

Rico Lewis has incredible potential, but seems to flourish more when deployed as an inverted full-back, and might fully transition to midfield in the future.

A more traditional overlapping right back would be a fine addition to the squad. Maybe CFA graduate Jeremie Frimpong would want to return to Manchester?

The run-in will be brutal

The FA Cup semi final will likely force the away match against Tottenham to be pushed back due to fixture congestion. Sam Lee of The Athletic pointed out on X that there’s a high likelihood that City may have to face Spurs in the second to last week of the season.

City are defending their treble-winning season, by currently still competing for a treble. The squad has looked knackered at times and while many of the difficult fixtures have been dealt with, the remainder of March, April and May look absolutely brutal.

The next six weeks will be a lot of fun!