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Who Is In Most Danger When Newcastle Get A Corner?

8 years ago
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According to Wikipedia, a corner kick is ‘a method of restarting play in a game of football’. It was first devised in Sheffield under the Sheffield Rules Act in 1867 and was adopted by the Football Association on 17th February 1872.

Despite its crucial role as a fundamental procedure, the corner gives so much more to the beautiful game. The flawless trajectory of Beckham, a perfect in-swinger from Pirlo, Riquelme’s preposterous curling ability and Cazorla’s ambidextrous qualities are to be admired.

Yet, the corner kick does not just provide a sparkly platform for Europe’s most incisive entertainers; it also performs the imperative role of filling fans with consistent false hope for ninety minutes every weekend. Rarely is a corner kick unaccompanied by a brutish roar of pent-up adrenaline, enabling jittery supporters to believe that, for at least the five seconds before the corner is taken, everything will fine.

Newcastle United fans have been suckered into this philosophy for too long, still buying into the myth that the corner kick an incisive attacking weapon, despite not having scored from one in the Premier League since October 1, 2011. Over 300 hopeful deliveries have gone unanswered since then.

The reasoning behind this is far from obvious. Newcastle can call upon Yohan Cabaye, Ryan Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux to strike the ball sweetly. In the box they have Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Papiss Cisse (as well as Demba Ba for most of that time) who can all head the ball with ease. So what is it that is going wrong?

For starters, just 15 out of 45 corners in the last six games (before Wigan) were accurate; therefore a significant portion of the blame lies with Cabaye. Yet Geordie fans wouldn’t have any other man over the set-piece, this is made evident by the standing ovation the Frenchman earns every time he trots over to take one.

But, should Cabaye be taking them from the right hand side, as he is naturally right footed? It was evident against Swansea last weekend that he was struggling to get the ball anywhere near the danger zone with various attempts not beating the first man and one going straight out of play. Admittedly, appropriate natural left footers are scarce. Ben Arfa is currently injured and Marveaux isn’t guaranteed to start; but certainly their more natural, in-swinging, deliveries would serve up more of a tasty offer for the predator waiting hungrily in the box.

The problem also seems to stem from the style of corner Newcastle try to execute. Often the ball is floated to the back of the opponent’s box, the taker presumably intending to over-hit the cross past the danger zone with the vision of picking out a tall centre half who will loop a header back into the mixer. Why?

This has been tried and tried again and now needs to be stopped. You wouldn’t continue to use the same penalty taker if he missed 300+ penalties in a row, would you? Neither would you go to the same curry house if they repeatedly got your order mixed up (actually, I would do that, but there’s never been a curry I wouldn’t eat). Eventually Newcastle rightfully benched Mike Williamson; the set-piece tactic should have joined him there.

The sight of Taylor and Coloccini chugging back (seconds after they have pretended to exchange a clever plan) is becoming far too frequent and often gives the opposition a chance of creating an opportunity on the counter. The Swansea game demonstrated where a cheeky set-piece goal would have been extremely rewarding. A well taken corner could provide a scrappy three points away from home and with Newcastle’s current form on the road only being outdone by a very poor Reading side, a patchy, perhaps lucky away win would be very welcomed.

The corner still has a very important role in football today, just look at the Van Persie corner affect at Man United, Varane’s header in El Classico, Hummels’ late Champions League equaliser for Dortmund and Mertesacker’s looping lifeline for Arsenal in the North London Derby.

Saying that, Barcelona don’t even attempt to score from them: but you could argue they need to work on them as much as the Magpies do, couldn’t you?

You can follow Matt on Twitter @ElasticoChop

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