Three quick takes on what I'm calling another Tyneside revival of Les Misérables as the hands of Manchester City. Without further ado, and without the presence of Hatem Ben Arfa, aka Prisoner 24601...
I Dreamed A Dream: After being dismantled over and over again in this matchup, it was at least encouraging to see Newcastle keep it competitive. But like poor Fantine, for whom "life has killed the dream I dreamed," every Newcastle fan sensed the inevitable result after a handful of squandered chances in the second half. The one that may have proven most costly was the poorly timed flub by Yoan Gouffran, who found himself all alone at the far post after a Jack Colback corner, but couldn't control the ball well enough to poke it past Joe Hart and even the match at 1-1 a few minutes after halftime.
On My Own: Emmanuel Rivière often looked every bit as forlorn as Éponine as she pined in vain for Marius. It took death for her to get the support she craved, but for Rivière, it never came at all. It's hard to evaluate Rivière (3 shots, 0 on target, 14-20 passing) other than to say what's already been said: as a lone striker, he can threaten defenders more with his speed and power than Papiss Cissé, and did so at times yesterday. But when Newcastle did have a decent chunk of possession around the penalty area, he looked out of sync with the midfielders behind him. Sometimes a cross would be delayed because Rivière was standing offside. Or he'd make a different run than the midfielder was expecting, resulting in an easy turnover. Siem de Jong will eventually give Rivière some help with his trailing runs into the box. But for now, the burden is all on the ex-Monaco man to make the most of what little service he does get.
Bring Him Home: My thoughts on the Colback signing are now on the record. I think Alan Pardew will wrongly regard Colback as an automatic starter, when he's probably better suited to be a backup option. Nonetheless, in Colback's return to his hometown club, it was hard to fault his performance (38-42 passing, 2 tackles, 5 interceptions) in place of the injured Cheick Tioté. He manned the barricade whenever City made its relatively rare forays into the final third, doing an admirable job to break up the play and launch the counterattack. As a third midfielder, there are far worse choices (see last season's Dan Gosling experience).