Newcastle United 2 (Ba 35, Cisse 90)
West Brom 1
Alan Pardew kept everybody guessing but went with only one enforced change from the sunderland match, Perch coming in for the suspended Tiote in midfield.
We seemed to switch back and forwards between a 442 and 433, Shola at times ending up as the right hand side of the front three and other times drifting into the middle.
In the opening half the team layout seemed to work in some ways, especially Ben Arfa and Santon teaming up on the left, no surprise there really as they are arguably our two most talented players.
On the other wing it tended to end up as a bit of a Shola/Simpson combo which probably isn’t ideal, though it did almost supply the opening goal. Shola crossing straight onto the head of Demba Ba who put it just wide when he should have scored.
However, West Brom were creating chances as well and following their blueprint from last season when they looked to play the ball on the ground behind our central defenders.
Today though we had Tim Krul in blinding form as he made two world class saves each time Lukaku got through one on one.
Ten minutes before half-time and we had a goal from an alternative route; Krul’s long ball was headed on by Shola and this time Ba coolly got the ball under control and lashed it past Foster.
A better contribution from Ameobi after he’d just lashed a shot high and wide when Ben Arfa had brilliantly beat four players and crossed the ball to give Shola the chance to control it and then have a free shot on goal or feed Cabaye who had bust a gut to support him.
West Brom came out and took the game by the scruff of the neck and you can hardly claim they didn’t deserve to equalise. Both Shola and Simpson stood off Gera who crossed fro Lukaku to at last beat an exposed Krul.
Pardew did his best to mix things up but to little effect, Shola & Simpson replaced by Cisse and Obertan with Santon going to right-back and Jonas dropping to left full-back.
In all honesty United were at sixes and sevens a lot of the time as they battled away but struggled to keep possession and/or orchestrate any kind of threat to the visitors.
While Sammy Ameobi showed a willingness to take on and beat his man at times, on the other side Gabriel Obertan failed miserably to build on any confidence carried over from his winner against Brugge. His ‘performance’ summed up by two occasions when Newcastle were breaking and instead of carrying the ball he elected to pass the buck/ball to somebody only a few yards ahead of him and each time lost the ball. To an extent you can improve a player’s skills but is it possible to give them confidence/heart?
Hatem Ben Arfa might not be somebody who goes flying into tackles but he has got a lot of bottle, like the rest of his teammates nothing had gone for him in the second-half but even in injury time he doesn’t give up easily.
Once again he was prepared to carry the ball and rode a couple of tackles before cynically brought down around fifteen yards from the eighteen yard box, advantage played and Sammy Ameobi hits a relatively harmless looking shot from the left that somehow eludes Ben Foster. From the Leazes End it was hard to tell but I’m reliably told it came off Papiss Cisse’s backside, bum deal!
I for one won’t apologise to anybody for a bit of luck going our way, especially after the spawny mackems last week.
“They always say that if you’re on a barren run you get one off your bum or shin, then it gets you going. Hopefully that will because it is nice to have a striker scoring, Demba Ba scored today but then got injured so we are going to look to Papiss now.
He just feels like there is a nerve issue going on, so we are going to have to inspect that and see what it turns up this week”.
Newcastle United: Krul, Simpson (Cisse 61), Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ben Arfa, Perch, Cabaye, Jonas, Shola (Obertan 61), Ba (Sammy Ameobi 73)
Unused Subs: Harper, Ferguson, Steven Taylor, Anita
West Brom: Foster, Tamas, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Mulumbu, Morrison, Odemwingie, Gera (Popov 88), Dorrans (Rosenberg 72), Lukaku (Long 65)
Referee: Chris Foy
Crowd: 49,731 (1,400 Away Fans)