Newcastle v Liverpool – The Most Complete Tactics, Stats and Analysis
Newcastle 2 Liverpool 2
Saturday 19 October 12.45pm
After last season’s 6-0 humiliation at home to Liverpool, Newcastle had some pride to restore going into Saturday’s lunchtime game against Liverpool. Having gone into the international break after beating Cardiff, hopes weren’t exactly high.
Going into the game Magpie fans probably would have been happy with a draw, especially with Liverpool’s strike force of Sturridge and Suarez, also known as SAS. And by the end Newcastle were thrilled to see themselves register a point against a club who moved to the top of the Premier League as the final whistle blew.
Newcastle were dealt a cruel blow in the international break with captain and defensive talisman Fabricio Coloccini ruled out because of a groin problem. Steven Taylor was also declared unfit so Mike Williamson lined up with Yanga-Mbiwa, the latter’s first performance for Newcastle since the dreadful first half against Everton.
Cisse was dropped to the bench with the no. 9 struggling for goals in the Premier League and not offering enough to the attack by way of hold up play either. In his place came Hatem Ben Arfa as Alan Pardew flirted with the idea of a false 9, possibly after seeing how successful West Ham were with the strikerless formation against Tottenham, a team of similar ability to Liverpool.
Anita remained on the bench and Newcastle again lined up with Cabaye, Tiote and Sissoko in midfield – all three offering a high workrate and competent ability on the ball.
Liverpool continued with their 3-5-2 which has had mixed results both defensively and offensively this season, despite the club’s early success. Liverpool were without star defensive midfielder Lucas and former Toon favourite Jose Enrique. Glen Johnson returned at right back, with Aly Cissoko getting his full premier league debut on the left.
Philip Coutinho, who had been so devastating to Newcastle at the end of last season, continued his spell on the sidelines with Chelsea loanee Victor Moses playing centrally – at least to begin with.
NEWCASTLE START WELL
At the start of the game both midfields, on the face of it at least, had even numbers in midfield with both employing what is called a double pivot in front of the defence with one pushed further forward (Sissoko for Newcastle, Moses for the latter).
Early on in the game Newcastle found space quite easy to come by, with players seemingly taking it in turns to fire ambitious long range shots and test the nerve of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Remy was first to chance his arm, followed by Debuchy but it was third time is the charm with Cabaye scoring a thunderous shot from about 30 yards.
Hatem Ben Arfa, deployed as a false nine, was never going to have any luck aerially against Liverpool’s three CBs of Toure, Skrtel and Sakho. That said, his guile did prove effective on the ground once or twice, with the Frenchman capable of dodging a tackle or two before laying the ball off to either Gouffran or Remy, Newcastle’s wide players.
SENDING OFF CHANGES GAME
Having put in such a brilliant performance otherwise, it’s hard to be too critical of Cheick Tiote but it was he who played Luis Suarez onside and once Liverpool’s no. 7 was goal side of Yanga-Mbiwa the French centre back knew he was in trouble. He gave Suarez a tug on the shoulder and the Uruguayan, needing no further encouragement, went down. Newcastle were swiftly down to 10 men despite protestations and Gerrard comfortably scored from the spot – his 100th Premier League goal for the club
Pardew wasted no time in readjusting his team. Off came Sissoko, who had a rasping shot saved earlier but other than that offered little in the game. In his place Geordie born Paul Dummett, one of the few current success stories of Newcastle’s academy and, ordinarily, a left back. He would have no such luck here with Pardew backing the youngster in the centre of defence alongside Mike Williamson.
The two formed a surprisingly effective partnership, even if it was one Newcastle fans would not like to see next week when the team line up against arch rivals Sunderland.
A DEFENSIVE STAND
After going 2-1 up Newcastle were content to sit back and defend with two solid banks of four. Bar Liverpool’s second goal, with both Debuchy and Williamson caught out for pace, Liverpool didn’t threaten too often. Krul was still required to make a couple of smart stops, particularly one at his near post which was creeping in
Both of Newcastle’s full backs performed well in defence with neither proving too gung ho with their attacking runs. Santon made two tackles and two interceptions, whereas Debuchy made three of each and a massive eight clearances, not including four with his head.
Debuchy also tried to spring the counter attack frequently, specifically with cross field passes intended for Remy but they were often overhit, leaving his compatriot with little chance of threatening Liverpool’s back three.
Dummett proved excellent in defence – and not bad with his finishing either – but his passing was poor. In his 50 minutes on the pitch he completed only one pass going forward, preferring to be conservative and pass back to Krul.
POSSESSION NOT PENETRATION
Even before Newcastle went down to 10 men, Liverpool were always likely to dominate possession and time on the ball. After Yanga-Mbiwa’s dismissal, Liverpool’s possession stats came perilously close to saturation, with the reds getting almost 70% possession in the second half.
Newcastle defended well, happy to give Liverpool time on the ball in less dangerous areas and quick to harass around the 18 yard box – even if that did lead to a large amount of dangerous free kicks (most notably one in the dying minutes after Debuchy was harshly judged to have barged Suarez over).
In an attempt to unlock the Magpies stubborn defence, Liverpool turned to their most talented player – Luis Suarez. With Gerrard picking out the Uruguayan 22 times all game. It’s worth noting of the top 10 pass combinations, only three are between Newcastle players, the top one for the black and whites being Tiote passing to midfield partner Cabaye.
It didn’t take Brendan Rodgers too long in the second half to notice his 3-5-2 formation was having less effect than he’d hope on the 10 men of Newcastle. Shortly after going 2-1 down, off came Sakho and on Luis Alberto, with Liverpool reverting to a tradition 4-4-2 and Moses, who had up to that point been very ineffective in the centre of midfield, put out to the wing.
The difference was immediate, 10 minutes later Suarez and Sturridge combined for the equaliser and Newcastle were once again required to hang on. Newcastle’s counter attacks were frustrating, with Loic Remy particularly disappointing when it came to the final third. Often the on loan striker would find himself in a good position but fail to pull the trigger before being muscled off the ball, one case being a fantastic recovering tackle from Skrtel which denied a certain goal.
With the scores level Pardew brought on some fresh legs, with Anita and Ameobi (the Sammy variety) replacing Hatem Ben Arfa and goalscorer Yohan Cabaye. At this point possession was stacked heavily against the home side and both could do little to severely influence the game. Ameobi attempted some direct runs as part of Newcastle’s counter attacks but was frequently out-muscled.
Anita managed just six touches of the ball as he ran across the pitch, attempting to close down any space Gerrard might find with which to draw up a long range shot.
He was given the Captain’s armband by Pardew and decided to go out onto the field and earn it. This was as close to his best as Newcastle fans have seen Tiote in the past 12 months with the Ivorian pounding over every inch of grass for the team and putting up some stellar numbers, so much so that his persistent poor decision making on the rare occasions he does get into the final third can be forgiven.
The stand-in captain made six tackles, two more than anyone else on the field. He also got 82 touches of the ball, almost 20 more than his midfield partner Yohan Cabaye. Tiote did the job to perfection and bar one blip where he passed the ball straight into Suarez’s chest (something which could have been fatal) he proved that he still has the desire to put in a top level performance.
Apart from a couple of attempted Hollywood shots (he should leave those to Cabaye) Tiote was safe and assured in possession, completing 92% of his passes. The Ivorian often spread the play wide and encouraged Newcastle’s attack minded full backs to get forward, something they could afford to do against a team lined up with only wing backs for width. He also made two interceptions, one block and helped alleviate the pressure at crucial times with four clearances.
A result fans would have taken before the match and almost certainly at half time, this was something to build on, with the team once again showing a healthy level of grit and determination. Reports of divisions in the dressing room at the end of last season are still fresh in the mind for some Toon fans and seeing Debuchy and Dummett both embrace Tim Krul after his last minute free kick save surely demonstrates any divisions, had there ever been any, are fully dispelled.
Newcastle’s counter attack play definitely requires work and on occasion they surrendered possession too easily, especially when they were being given so little but Newcastle are still a side taking baby steps after last season’s brush with relegation.
A local hero may have been born when Paul Dummett drifted around the back of Liverpool’s defence to slot in Cabaye’s free kick but it will not stop fans praying Coloccini makes a swift recovery from his groin problem.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Mapou, Williamson, Santon, Tiote, Cabaye (Anita 78), Sissoko (Dummett 45), Ben Arfa (Sammy Ameobi 78), Gouffran, Remy
Unused Subs: Elliot, Obertan, Cisse, Shola
Liverpool: Mognolet, Toure, Skrtel, Sakho (Alberto 63), Johnson (Sterling 83), Henderson, Gerrard, Cissokho, Moses, Suarez, Sturridge
Ref: Andre Marriner
Crowd: 51,703 (3,235 away fans)
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