The champions were without Kevin De Bruyne, the signing of Lucas Paqueta has been canceled, and Riyad Mahrez’s successor has not yet been found. With Callum Wilson, Harvey Barnes, and Tino Livramento named in Eddie Howe’s matchday squad but not in the starting XI, it might even be argued that the Magpies had better depth on their bench. Pep Guardiola, in contrast, didn’t have any senior attackers on his bench.
Manchester City won it in the end by a score of 1-0. Erling Haaland had been kept relatively quiet by the Magpies, though he did manage four shots on the evening, the most of any player in the game. They had trouble stopping Phil Foden, a versatile attacker who completed 90.7% of his passes with a teammate while also making seven crucial plays and earning an assist.
Despite this, the majority of Expected Goal models estimated the hosts’ odds for the game at roughly 1.01. The away team handled the typically raging home team reasonably well. But a sensational Julian Alvarez finale undid all of their hard work.
Even though the new season has just seen two games, the World Cup winner, 23, is clearly having fun starting for Manchester City.
The Argentine’s performance on Saturday night was topped off by his game-winning effort. No player could match his total of three dribbling attempts, three passes, and two crucial passes against the Magpies.
The strike was sufficient to win any game. Alvarez received a feed from Foden and received it close inside the penalty area. He took a touch to center himself and then shot into the far corner. Even the 6ft 3 Nick Pope could only reach it with his fingertips at full extension before it sank into the side netting. The No. 19 generated all of that power even though he had to stop running to catch the pass and pulled the trigger from essentially a standing start. An underrated player made an underrated strike.
This year, Alvarez has played as an attacking midfielder. He is positioned behind Haaland, and his job is to coordinate play, hold onto the ball, and then act as a second striker to assist the No. 9. He finds it to be quite appealing.
He is more than just a goal scorer, and his play on the ball is often overlooked.