Alan Pardew’s Plan Comes Together
It is not something that has been said or written on a regular basis but Saturday’s 2-0 victory against Chelsea was a tactical triumph for Pardew.
It can be tempting when playing against the Premiership heavyweights to attempt to set off on the front foot and attack from the first minute. It can also be tempting to shut up shop and form a ten man army of defenders.
However, neither of those game plans were attempted, in fact Pardew’s men simply displayed a game of patient build up play which gave a balanced and extremely effective performance.
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Patient play and lack of closing down in the final third gave us more energy for the last 30 minutes and limited their space to break down the middle. Chelsea generally prefer to play down the middle through playmakers like Mata and Oscar.
The most pass combinations on Saturday were between Luiz to Terry with 24 passes and Terry to Luiz with 23 passes, this was especially apparent in the first half with the two centre backs having little option in front of them. It was like watching paint dry at times but it highlighted what we were trying to achieve.
Usually strikers are told to defend from the front and chase every ball played between defenders but it was noticeable that Remy was more than happy to watch the two keep possession. It was claimed this was due to tired legs through midweek football but this tactic gave Remy the energy to cause havoc on a tiring John Terry in the second half and he was rewarded with a well deserved goal.
Alan Pardew stated, “We decided to be very cautious from the start, not let them play through us, and we perhaps let them have a bit too much possession and there wasn’t enough pressure on the ball. But we knew second half we had enough to exert pressure and the crowd were getting behind us, and that’s exactly what happened. The goal came at a great time for us.”
Cheick Tiote ended the game on a 95% pass rate with 36 out of 39 attempted short passes.
He is the perfect example of our transition to a more patient style of football, keeping the play simple rather than impatient and entirely speculative passes.
Tiote has thrived in the last three games, his resurgence could be due to his recent captaincy but I would argue that Pardew’s recent tactics have prompted a more disciplined performance from Tiote.
Tiote had, in the last year been suffering from what I like to call ‘Nicky Butt Syndrome’, where a defensive midfielder, who has built a career on winning the ball and retaining possession, suddenly develops delusions of grandeur in believing they can provide the ‘Hollywood’ ball. This often resulted in groans from supporters, however when sticking to what he does best, Tiote can hassle and frustrate the best of them, much like Nicky Butt.
Unfortunately for Hatem Ben Arfa, Pardew clearly does not see him as someone who can be used for this particular game plan with his direct dribbling style sometimes (more recently) resulting in loss of possession. Preferring Gouffran and Sissoko down the flanks to provide more defensive duties.
Most fans will be hoping Pardew can find a role for Hatem in the side as, on his day, there are few players with more devastating abilities.
Newcastle have been claimed to be this season’s most inconsistent team and Pardew has to take a lion share of the blame for that. You only need to look at how poorly set up the team was in the first half mauling against Everton.
While we rode our luck at times and Chelsea were not at their usual intensity, even Pardew’s biggest critics must be able to give credit where credit is due for Saturday’s performance.
Pardew’s men will be looking to frustrate the opposition on their trip to Tottenham on Sunday with the North London side failing to open the goal scoring floodgates this season.
After their stalemate with Everton they have only scored 9 goals this season, whilst conceding only 5, which is the second best defensive record in the league.
Patience will have to be key once again as they have not been punished too often this season and seemingly cannot find the answers when frustrated in the final third.
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