Saturday 25 February 2012 3pm
Newcastle United 2 (Cisse 6, Gutierrez 16)
It is always easy to read certain things into a match after the ninety minutes is over but the simple fact is that Newcastle were two up after 16 minutes yet didn’t win the game.
I’ll be interested to see the possession figures overall but even in that opening sixteen minute period I wouldn’t put money on United being ahead in the keep ball stakes.
Nevertheless, both goals were classics of their kind, the first coming after great closing down by Cabaye saw him win the ball on the right and his low cross met with a clever flick by Ba that Hennessey did well to keep out. The ball was only cleared to the edge of the box where Tiote was first to it and our latest number nine supplied the instinctive finish.
The ball cleared out to the left where Gutierrez hit a rocket from twenty five yards into the top corner. As always when he scores a goal they are screamers and we are left asking, why doesn’t he score these more often…..
Curiously Newcastle still didn’t really stamp their authority on the game, seemingly happy to soak up the Wolves pressure, though having said that United looked dangerous whenever they roused themselves.
The first half meandered to a more than satisfactory conclusion as the only real scare was a Doyle header that flashed wide.
Five minutes into the second period and Wolves fluked one, Jarvis shot from wide and a wicked deflection looped it over Krul. Though you would still have to question why Simpson wasn’t closer to Jarvis as he shot/crossed.
Twenty five minutes left and Alan Pardew was waiting to make a double substitution, they’d been waiting a couple of minutes and then play stopped for a dubious free-kick out on our left. Ben Arfa and Guthrie replaced Ryan Taylor and Cissé, ball swung over…scramble…bundled in.
Many footballing sayings don’t make sense but I think the one about not making changes when you are defending a set-piece is more than valid. A rare black mark for the manager.
Shola eventually replaced Tiote as Newcastle tried to force a win but the final whistle brought frustration to manager, players and fans – exactly why some were booing (fans!) is beyond me.
Conclusions? Clearly it is going to take time before we get the very best out of the Ba/Cissé partnership though as today showed it is unlikely to stop them scoring goals in the meantime, even if they aren’t an instant perfect fit in the team.
Williamson continues to be a bundle of nerves, especially on the ball, while the right-hand side is maybe our achilles heel.
On the left the Santon/Jonas combo is looking at least every bit as effective as the one with Jose Enrique, both defending and attacking they look quality. In fact they are our best (only at times?) threat to the other team, while it is ominous how often the opposition are targeting the other flank.
Simpson is looking more and more exposed and how much that is down to not having an obvious player to play in front of him is open to question. For me Santon was easily our best player today and in the harsh light of a defeat ( for that is what it feels like) you have to look at whether Simpson & Ryan Taylor are in the same league as Jonas & Santon, I think the answer you are looking for is NO!
I’m a big fan of Ben Arfa and less so of Guthrie but felt sorry for both as they stepped on the field and instantly were under pressure as Wolves equalised, both then were trying to force the pass or the run and failed in both.
I hope the boo boys stay at home next Sunday because we need everybody pulling together if we want to make sure the season gets back on track against you know who.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon, Ryan Taylor (Danny Guthrie 65), Cheick Tiote (Shola Ameobi 80), Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez, Papiss Cissé (Hatem Ben Arfa 65), Demba Ba
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Gabriel Obertan, Shola Ameobi
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Wayne Hennessey, Ronald Zubar, Christophe Berra, Richard Stearman, Stephen Ward (c), Kevin Foley (Nenad Milijas 90), Karl Henry, David Edwards, Jamie O’Hara (Michael Kightly 70), Matt Jarvis (Stephen Hunt 85), Kevin Doyle
Subs not used: Dorus De Vries, Jody Craddock, Roger Johnson, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
Referee: Peter Walton
Attendance: 52,287 (1550 Visitors)