Newcastle United put in a solid display, but it was not enough as they fell to a 1-0 defeat to the Premier League champions Manchester City.

Eddie Howe’s side travelled to the Etihad Stadium full of confidence after their 5-1 opening-day victory over Aston Villa, but could not break down Pep Guardiola’s defence, and were undone by a stunning strike from Julian Alvarez.

Newcastle did have strong periods, particularly in the second half, but could not create a clear-cut opportunity to strike at goal, but they may have fared better if they had one of their key players available.

Joe Willock missed the game as he continues to recover from injury, but he could have made a key impact, even off the bench, if he was available.

Lack of cutting edge

Whilst scoring at the Etihad is difficult for any side, Newcastle may feel frustrated that they weren’t able to create a big chance, with just one shot on target the entire game.

At times, Newcastle pushed forward well on the counter-attack and even found Kieran Trippier and Miguel Almiron on the ball in attacking areas. However, this would often lead to a floated cross across the box, which would either be too heavy, or easily cleared by City.

Newcastle United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Premier League
Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

Having Willock available could have changed this, as the Englishman could have provided an extra option in the box coming in from deep positions, and this may have prompted the wide men to cut the ball back to him in the box.

Willock was described as “excellent” by Eddie Howe last year, and despite the arrival of Sandro Tonali, can still stake a claim for a starting spot in the Newcastle side. As a box-to-box option with a good eye for goal, he will prove particularly useful once he returns from injury.

It appears that Willock will be unavailable for at least another few weeks, and Newcastle will hope that they can continue delivering positive displays in his absence.

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