Saturday 17 December 2011 3pm
Newcastle United 0
Swansea City 0
“If we had got a goal I think we would have gone on to win with a bit to spare, but they did brilliantly.
They got a lot of bodies behind and worked hard, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my boys.”
Tributes to Gary Speed were duly made pre-match and the crowd then settled down for a match to fit the occasion.
Today’s ninety minutes wasn’t a poor advert for the Premier League but it was a frustrating day for home fans.
Pre-match spirits were lifted as both Tiote and Coloccini made the starting line-up, along with Best returning up front and Santon slotting in at left-back.
Tiote looked desperately off the pace at times but actually improved physically as the game went on, his passing though was erratic at times and with missing a yard of pace he made a couple of desperate attempted recovering tackles which luckily didn’t make contact.
Credit to Swansea as they do try and play from the back and have some tidy players but created little in the first forty five, unlike United who were left scratching their heads after hitting both posts thanks to Coloccini’s header and Ba’s volley.
Our Senegalese striker was at the hub of anything good and on another day could have had a hat-trick, which he may well have done if we could have got the ice-breaking first. One audacious scissors kick as the ball bounced high in the box was the mark of a striker at the top of his form, if the ball had gone anywhere but straight at the keeper then it would have been the opener.
Guierrez and Obertan worked hard and at times looked like opening Swansea up but it didn’t quite happen, while Best put in a hard working shift…though what Ben Arfa makes of being left out of a home match like this is another matter.
Cabaye probed in midfield and along with Ba and Santon were the pick today but credit to Swansea because as the game wore on they got more and more possession.
Shola replaced Best and it almost paid instant dividends as Santon slipped him in with a beautiful ball only for Ameobi’s cross-shot to be clawed away by their keeper, that was the sum of Shola’s contribution and it just wasn’t good enough.
Late on, Vuckic and Sammy replaced Obertan and the shattered Tiote which again left many shaking their heads as to why Ben Arfa hadn’t been worth a throw of the dice, methinks problems ahead for the manager if the enigmatic Frenchman is denied a place.
The referee didn’t do us any favours as he kept his cards in his pockets as Swansea gave away numerous free-kicks when United were dominant early on, a card or two then might have made them think twice about disrupting our build-up play with fouls in relatively safe areas.
A match Newcastle deserved to edge but as the match wore on, the inspiration and energy levels dropped, not helped by a lack of real quality to bring off the bench apart possibly from a certain Frenchman who stayed attached to it.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon, Gabriel Obertan (Sammy Ameobi 82), Yohan Cabaye, Cheick Tiote (Haris Vuckic 82), Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best (Shola Ameobi 71), Demba Ba.
Subs not used: Steve Harper, Mike Williamson, Medhi Abeid, Hatem Ben Arfa.
Swansea City (4-5-1): Michel Vorm, Ashley Richards, Ashley Williams (c), Steven Caulker, Neil Taylor, Wayne Routledge, Leon Britton, Joe Allen, Mark Gower (Kemy Agustien 46), Scott Sinclair (Nathan Dyer 77), Danny Graham.
Subs not used: Gerhard Tremmel, Garry Monk, Stephen Dobbie, Luke Moore, Leroy Lita.
Referee: Lee Mason
Attendance: 51,767 (1,200 away fans)