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Robin Sainty: Unfashionable duo showed why Farke has kept the faith

Marco Stiepermann proved he is still a vital part of City's attacking armoury against Newcastle. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Marco Stiepermann proved he is still a vital part of City's attacking armoury against Newcastle. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

It will at least be of some comfort to Newcastle United to know that they won't have to play a team as good as Norwich City every week.

Grant Hanley was solid at the heart of Norwich City's back four against Newcastle. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesGrant Hanley was solid at the heart of Norwich City's back four against Newcastle. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Whilst it was always likely that City would bounce back strongly from their defeat at Anfield I don't think any of us really expected such a dominant passing masterclass in which the visitors were utterly dismantled despite boasting a £40 million striker.

In fact the tale of the two opposing strikers is a perfect microcosm of the game. Joelinton produced woefully little, other than putting a free header wide and then when the game was clearly beyond Newcastle spent most of his time on the ground in an attempt to convince his bench that the bruised hip that he'd picked up when trying to foul Grant Hanley was much too painful for him to carry on. Poor lamb.

Teemu Pukki on the other hand never stopped running for his team, the highlight being when, on the one occasion that Joelinton did get away from City's centre backs, he sprinted back to the edge of his own penalty area to dispossess the Brazilian. Money can't buy you heart.

Of course, Pukki was pretty effective at the other end of the pitch too, but for me Saturday was a triumph for the two players who bore the brunt of the limited amount of criticism resulting from the Liverpool game.

Marco Stiepermann was a constant thorn in Newcastle's side as his ability to drift into unexpected positions and excellent hold up play ensured that City's attacking movements were never predictable, while the slide rule pass which released the outstanding Todd Cantwell to set up Pukki's third was a thing of beauty.

Beauty isn't a word that tends to crop up in the context of Hanley, but the rugged Scot bounced back from his Anfield own goal to produce a powerful performance only slightly marred by his injury time slip as he and Ben Godfrey dealt with every threat that Newcastle were able to muster.

Anyone who thinks that Timm Klose or Christoph Zimmermann will simply walk back into the starting line-up when they are finally fit is likely to be disappointed.

MORE: Full training gallery pictures ahead of Chelsea clash

Like Stiepermann, Hanley lacks the cachet of a Moritz Leitner or Emi Buendia but the contribution of neither should be underestimated and the incredible togetherness of this squad is predicated on the knowledge that Daniel Farke will pick players on form not reputation.

On the subject of Buendia Stuart Webber regularly talks about his remarkable footballing intelligence and we saw another example on Saturday. Having put the ball down for a corner he spotted that the Newcastle players were dawdling into position, and even though his teammates weren't set themselves he immediately got the ball into the box.

The result was that Newcastle's defenders were all over the place and a second poor clearance after the first had been recycled back to the Argentine resulted in Pukki's opening goal. Imagine the level of hyperbole on Match of the Day if it had been someone like Mo Salah's quick thinking...

The prospect of Buendia, Cantwell and the metronomic Leitner working in tandem is an exciting one but it's important to keep our feet on the ground. Newcastle were poor, although to some extent that's down to how well City played but there are much tougher tests ahead, starting with another game against a European trophy holder today.

Chelsea may have started the season slowly and there are plenty of doubts about Frank Lampard's ability to handle such a big club so early in his managerial career, but they still have plenty of quality and will certainly ask more questions of City's defence than Newcastle did.

However, they are far from impregnable at the back themselves so City will fancy their chances, particularly if the Carrow Road atmosphere is as electrifying as it was last week.

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