NEWCASTLE UNITED maintained their impressive record against the established ‘big six’ as they claimed a 2-2 draw with Manchester City.

Jonjo Shelvey’s late strike secured a point after Jetro Willems had cancelled out Raheem Sterling’s opener for City – what were the key talking points at St James’ Park?


At the 24th time of asking, Miguel Almiron finally has his first assist for Newcastle. The wait for his first goal goes on, but at least the Paraguayan is up and running in terms of setting up successful strikes after he teed up Jetro Willems for the first-half finish that made it 1-1.

Almiron continues to frustrate and excite in equal measure, but in games like Saturday’s, when Newcastle are forced to spend long periods of time on the back foot, his willingness to receive possession and drive the ball out of his own half can be invaluable.

Like his fellow forwards, Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin, there will come a time when his end product will have to improve. For now though, a first Premier League assist is something to celebrate.


There was a sharp intake of breath when Saint-Maximin crumpled in a heap in the closing stages of the game, and while he was eventually able to haul himself to his feet, he was immediately replaced by Christian Atsu.

Saint-Maximin also received a heavy knock in the first half, but while he has to be a doubt for Thursday’s trip to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United, the early signs are that he has not suffered any long-term damage.

“Allan is sore,” said Steve Bruce. “He had a sore one before half-time, but I’m sure he’ll be okay. Andy (Carroll, who was not in the 18-man squad) has hurt his rib and didn’t quite make it.”


When Jamaal Lascelles suffered a knee injury that will sideline him until the new year, it was feared Newcastle would struggle without their captain’s leadership and defensive prowess. The Magpies were not at their best as they lost at Aston Villa last Monday, but Saturday’s performance was much more resilient and impressive.

Federico Fernandez was superb at the heart of Newcastle’s back three, with Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett performing commendably either side of him. The fact that Bruce can also call on Fabian Schar, who was an unused substitute, and Florian Lejeune, who is now back to full fitness, highlights the depth of the Magpies’ defensive resources.

Jonjo Shelvey might not seem like a natural choice of captain, but the midfielder led by example at the weekend, cracking home the long-range equaliser that secured Newcastle a point.


Martin Dubravka has endured some shaky moments this season, erring against Leicester City and Liverpool and coming in for criticism after Conor Hourihane curled home a free-kick in Newcastle’s defeat at Aston Villa on Monday night.

However, the Slovakian was back to his very best at the weekend, producing a string of impressive saves that frustrated Manchester City. He denied Raheem Sterling in the first half, before a superb second-half double save prevented both Gabriel Jesus and Kevin de Bruyne from finding the net. A late save from Sterling was arguably the pick of his efforts.

“We played well, but Dubravka made some good saves,” admitted City boss Pep Guardiola. “We arrived in front of the ball many times, but unfortunately we could not score.”


Manchester City have now won just one of their last five matches in all competitions, and while we are only just into December, the gap to league leaders Liverpool has become something of a chasm.

The reigning champions are 11 points adrift of their rivals, a huge gap that could increase further given that City’s next three matches take them to Turf Moor for a tricky game against Burnley and also pit them against Manchester United and Arsenal.

“We have to win games, win games, win games, and when you don’t win, it will be more difficult,” said Guardiola. That is true, but City also need Liverpool to start losing.