Despite taking the lead after just 25 seconds, Man City fell to a demoralising 2-1 defeat against Newcastle United which did their title defence no favours at all.
Pep Guardiola was left to bemoan City’s inability to break down the staunch Newcastle midfield over the prevailing 89 minutes and 35 seconds of the evening, with Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Fernandinho, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus all unable to get the better of Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden.
For the unfamiliar, Longstaff is a 21-year-old Toon academy graduate who only really broke into the first team a week or three ago due to the injuries besieging Jonjo Shelvey, Mo Diame and Ki Sung-Yueng.
Hayden is fifth choice and doesn’t really want to be at St James Park, having openly stated that he wishes to leave the club and move closer to his family in South Wales before the January transfer window closes.
Still, that pair of rag-tag auxiliary privates managed to quell Pep’s entire £500million battalion (in comparison, Newcastle’s starting line-up cost around £40million).
Guardiola: “We could not deal with Newcastle’s holding midfielders.” #nufc
— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) 29 January 2019
Newcastle managed to pull off the win by scoring two goals from their only two shots on target: the first a Salomon Rondon volley (assisted by Hayden) and the second a Matt Ritchie penalty (won by Longstaff).
The result means that Liverpool can now re-extend their lead at the top of the shop back to seven points with a win over Leicester City at Anfield on Wednesday night.
If Rafa Benitez wasn’t already a bona fide hero among Liverpudlian circles, he may well be come the end of the season.