Newcastle v West Brom Match Report – Most Complete Tactics, Stats and Analysis
Newcastle v West Brom Match Report
Newcastle 2 West Brom 1
Saturday 30 November 5.30pm
Hot off the back of three wins, Newcastle United faced off against West Bromwich Albion in Saturday’s late game with the Magpies knowing a win would take them up to fifth.
West Brom came into the game after throwing away a 2-0 lead against rivals Aston Villa on Monday night but Irish striker Shane Long, who has long been linked with a move to Tyneside, despite his disappointing goal ratio, is in form.
Newcastle welcomed back Mathieu Debuchy who had served a one match ban after picking up five yellow cards. All eyes were on what defensive reshuffle would take place to accommodate him at right back. Alan Pardew decided to stick with the same centre back pairing as last week’s win against Norwich and replaced Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa who can find himself feeling slightly aggrieved after turning in a string of strong performances since that infamous first half against Everton.
Other than that it was business as usual for Newcastle with Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran occupying the wings, once again leaving Hatem Ben Arfa on the bench. Ameobi, who delivered a Star Player performance in last week’s win against Norwich, partnered Loic Remy up front.
West Brom on the other hand made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 with Villa. Billy Jones came in at right back, Liam Ridgewell at left back and James Morrison returned to midfield, with Claudio Yacob and Goran Popov dropping to the bench.
Whereas Newcastle were in a solid 4-4-2, West Brom were in a more fluid 4-2-3-1/4-1-4-1 with Stephane Sessegnon supporting Shane Long in attack.
The first 10 minutes were not a joy to watch by anyone’s standard of football with both sides failing to put cohesive strings of passes together and most moves broke down. In the 3rd minute Debuchy once again demonstrated his smart positioning, making a good block in his own box and Mike Williamson, once so maligned, made three clearances (all of which were aimed for Row Z).
Also in the first 10 minutes the two midfield enforcers Youssouf Mulumbu and Cheick Tiote exchanged cynical fouls to stop counter attacks – both would likely have seen a card further on in the match but referee Phil Dowd saw fit to keep his cards in his pocket.
One of Newcastle’s ploys was the through ball. In the 13th minute Gouffran almost played through Remy but just hit the pass too far, still the attempted pass earned the winger a thumbs up from Pardew who wanted to see the West Brom back four stretched.
As demonstrative of the scrappy early nature of the game, both sides had 50/50 possession by the 17th minute – but then Sissoko, who has come under some criticism for his offensive work, demonstrated his strength against Ridgewell, laid the ball off for Debuchy to curve in a fantastic cross only for Remy to fail to get a meaningful head on the ball. Newcastle came alive from then on and dominated the rest of the first half.
It was Sissoko again who carved out another half chance. Picking up the ball around halfway he saw space ahead of him and ran at the West Brom defence (Sissoko managed three dribbles all game, highest on the pitch). He played the ball to Ameobi who passed waywardly.
By the 30th minute possession had swung massively in Newcastle favour (64-36) as Tiote and Yohan Cabaye began to run rings around the West Brom midfield of Mulumbu, Morrison and Sessegnon. A corner in the 34th minute saw Ameobi startle Boaz Myhill into a hasty, ill-judged punch. It went more up than out and Gouffran (who has now scored three in four and should be a contender for player of the month) rose above the West Brom defence to head the ball into an empty net. It was no more than Newcastle’s play deserved after some silky passes in and around pressure in the build up to the corner.
In the 46th minute Newcastle’s through ball policy, they made four all game to West Brom’s nought, looked to have paid off as Cabaye – who managed 84% pass accuracy all game – slid a great pass in for Remy who went down under a shirt pull from Olsson. The crowd demanded a free kick at the very least but Dowd wasn’t interested.
When half time came around West Brom were glad to hear it. Although Newcastle hadn’t threatened too much, the team looked confident and composed. Tiote and Cabaye managed 107 touches between them whereas West Brom’s midfield three had only 90. Chris Brunt, playing on the left wing, had seen just 15 touches of the ball (the only player who had seen less was Remy with 13) and had a shocking 44% pass accuracy. The captain had also managed to get himself booked with a shirt pull.
Cabaye was playing like a man possessed, spraying the ball around with pomp. The Frenchman also made three tackles and five interceptions in what was a thoroughly commanding performance. Mulumbu and Morrison had been anonymous in attack with Long’s only success coming from aerial balls over the midfield. The Irishman caused a great nuisance of himself winning 78% of the aerial battles he got in. Unfortunately for him, his side lacked any penetration and he didn’t manage a single touch in Newcastle’s penalty area in the first half, nor did his side manage a single shot on target.
The game in midfield was fast and furious, by half time both sides had committed 15 fouls (eight for Newcastle, seven for West Brom). Still, Newcastle were well on top harrassing West Brom, making 12 tackles in the first half to the Baggies’ eight.
In the second half however West Brom started to show why they had only lost once on the road thus far this season. Long pestered and pressured Newcastle on the ball but he was clumsy with his work, giving away fouls four times and allowing Newcastle time to regroup – Shola was more clumsy and gave away five fouls although Dowd seemed harsh on the Nigerian international.
One thing Pardew will appreciate about his wingers is the defensive shift they put in. Whereas Brunt and Amalfitano made one tackle between them, Sissoko and Gouffran made two each,
WEST BROM EQUALISE
After some scrappy play on the right – a side West Brom had a lot of luck down, attacking down it 43% of the time – Jones crossed a dangerous ball in which was headed on by Long and smashed into the back of the net by Chris Brunt (who should have been picked up by Sissoko in a rare mistake by the number seven). Brunt had up to this point been anonymous but he took his goal well, leaving Krul with no chance.
Briefly the Magpies were on the ropes. Cabaye conceded a corner (West Brom had three all game) and Olsson’s header from the centre of the box was close but missed to the right.
Newcastle quickly struck back to go out in front again. A clever ball from Santon saw Ameobi head the ball on to Remy, who headed it into the path of Sissoko. He lashed it and scored his first goal since February with his first, and only, shot of the day.
Although not challenged for his flick on to Remy, Ameobi demonstrated some powerful centre forward play all game and proved last week’s performance wasn’t a one off. He gave away too many fouls, yes, but he still managed to win 50% of his aerial battles, draw two fouls and generally link up play very well between the midfield and Remy when he dropped off. His decision making is hardly top class but his general play was still accomplished – one tackle and one interception (Remy didn’t manage either) didn’t blot his copybook at all.
A MORE OPEN GAME
The second half was a much more even affair possession-wise and Mulumbu and Morrison managed to gain some credibility, even if Tiote and Cabaye continued to look the more dangerous pair. By the end of the game West Brom’s duo managed 160 touches of the ball, barely topped by the Magpie duo who got 165.
By the end of the game Newcastle had made 22 tackles to West Brom’s 16 – despite possession falling in favour of those in black and white.
The Baggies, who had only managed three shots in all of the first half, chalked up 11 in the second but their finishing was profligate and Tim Krul wasn’t troubled – never having to make a save in the second half. Krul was helped by his defense and in particular by Mike Williamson, whose renaissance in the centre of defence continues.
Williamson was easily Newcastle’s stand-out defensive player. He made four tackles, the same as the rest of the back four put together, blocked two shots, won 60% of his aerial battles, didn’t give away a single foul and made a staggering nine clearances. To put that into perspective, Fabricio Collocini, who put in a solid performance himself, made only two. Williamson’s work in the air came into particular use in the dying minutes when he made three headed clearances in as many minutes as West Brom went direct with Victor Anichibe.
In the 76th minute with the game rapidly drifting away from the Baggies, Steve Clarke made two changes and switched formation. Off came Brunt (34 touches, five shots and only one on target – albeit a goal) and Sessegnon who, although he started brightly, lost the spirit for a 90 minute tussle with Tiote. On came Berahino and Anichibe as Clarke went 4-4-2.
It was too little too late for the Baggies and Clarke perhaps should’ve seen Dowd’s refereeing of Ameobi against Olsson and McAuley as evidence of how Anichibe might go down battling against Collocini and Williamson. As it was the former Everton man gave away two fouls and both he and Berahino managed only 12 touches of the ball in the last 14 minutes.
Pardew didn’t take too long to react and quickly looked to shut up shop. Anita came on for Remy who had a quiet game with just 33 touches and two shots on target, both of which were tame efforts. It would be 4-5-1 with Gouffran, whose herculean work rate cannot be understated, attempting to support Ameobi when Newcastle got possession.
Newcastle defended very deep from here on with West Brom pressing but looking far from dangerous. Zoltan Gera was brought on by West Brom but his only influence of note was a free kick, conceded by Santon (one of two fouls he gave away on the day) against Long (who won four despite giving away so many).
A very tough decision in what was undoubtedly a team performance from the Magpies. The award could easily go to either Ameobi, who caused a nuisance, Cabaye, who ran the midfield like a metronome, or Williamson, but if for his wonder goal alone, it is won by Sissoko.
His transformation to a winger is far from complete but he offers so much more than just an attacking threat, with his work rate and defensive capabilities it is no wonder he is Newcastle’s only outfield player to start every game this season. Showing his excellent footballing brain, Sissoko knew exactly when to come inside and help out the centre of midfield, either with a tackle or to offer himself with a pass, he capped off his performance with a fantastic shot.
It was far from easy against a very well organised West Brom side but Newcastle, for the most part, looked like a side in control of the fixture with only a brief blip at the start of the first half. Two challenging away fixtures in the space of the next six days will really test the squad’s mettle but they have considerable momentum behind them with four wins on the bounce and a 100% record in November.
Bar injuries or fitness concerns the same team will line up against Swansea – who are currently undergoing a striker crisis with Bony and Michu injured – and now could be a better time than any to head to south Wales, especially with the Swans having 3 fixtures in six days thanks to the Europa League, something Newcastle know all about.
Pardew is surely a shoe-in for November manager of the month and Gouffran should be seriously considered for player (although the award will likely go to Aaron Ramsey). Now the club heads into winter with fixtures coming thick and fast. Newcastle are in fifth place – it’ll be a real struggle to stay there.
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Sissoko (Cisse 90+5), Tiote, Cabaye, Gouffran, Shola, Remy (Anita 84)
Unused Subs: Elliot, Mapou, Sammy Ameobi, Ben Arfa, Obertan
Ref: Phil Dowd
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