The Best Analysis, Stats and Tactics From Newcastle v Swansea
Newcastle v Swansea Match Report
Newcastle 1 Swansea 2 Saturday 19 April 3pm
Pressure is mounting on Alan Pardew with Newcastle United currently on an absolutely dire run of form. The sale of Yohan Cabaye without having an adequate replacement, has triggered a collapse from almost all the playing squad with injuries to key players Loic Remy, Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko hardly helping the beleaguered manager.
The away support have certainly turned on the 52 year old but there was still a sense a victory a home to strugglers Swansea City would ease the pressure and rubber stamp the Magpies’ top 10 finish.
Swansea have troubles of their own, another club hampered by the Europa League and injuries, the Swans haven’t been able to push themselves clear of the relegation zone.
Newcastle made one change from the poor performance against Stoke last weekend – Luuk De Jong came in for Steven Taylor. The striker, on loan from Borussia Mochengladbach, is yet to get on the scoresheet for his loan club but Pardew seems keen to play him in a more withdrawn role, giving very little chance to get the defence on the back foot and preferred as quasi second striker.
If you believe the official Newcastle United twitter account the Magpies were lining up in a bizarre 3-4-1-2 formation with four strikers on the pitch. In the hour before kick off a lot of fans were trying their best to shoehorn the players into the unorthodox formation. As it was Newcastle actually lined up in a much more conventional 4-2-3-1 with Papiss Cisse playing as a winger, Yoann Gouffran on the left, Vurnon Anita at right back and De Jong withdrawn up front with Shola Ameobi leading the line.
The small bit of good news for Newcastle fans was the return to fitness of Remy (Newcastle had only scored once all season without him on the pitch) and Debuchy – both were on the bench.
Swansea were a lot more opaque, new manager Gary Monk continuing with a 4-2-3-1 formation, one time Newcastle target Wilfried Bony up front with De Guzman, Hernandez and Routledge supporting him.
As with much of Newcastle’s play since Christmas, the game was scrappy to begin with, with neither side really able to put a stamp on the game in the first 10 minutes. De Jong however, who is being crowbarred into an unnatural number 10 role, at least showed some good defensive work, making two tackles in the first 10 minutes and attempting a third.
The football from the Magpies though was very uninspiring. Mike Williamson appeared all too keen to pump the ball long to Ameobi and De Jong but once they held the ball up, neither Cisse or Gouffran appeared keen to run past them and Newcastle were forced to rebuild from the back all over again.
In the 17th minute Newcastle had actually managed to edge possession 53% to 47% but they looked a lot less composed with it. Cisse looked lost on the wing, as he has done in the past, and Dan Gosling and Cheick Tiote were loathe to get forward and support the two strikers, with Gouffran always seeming more comfortable defensively than going forward.
Newcastle’s confusion was saved by a knee injury to Cisse, who was withdrawn on the 21st minute for Mathieu Debuchy, with Anita moving up onto the right wing.
Coming off the bench, Debuchy reminded Newcastle fans exactly what they had been missing at right back. With a terrific work rate, a willingness to go forward, he is the complete package at right back, never looking flustered and often, especially in the second half, Newcastle’s forward-most player as Ameobi frequently played with his back to goal looking to hold the ball up.
Just a few minutes after coming on for Cisse, Debuchy athletically headed a through ball back to Krul in goal. Hard to imagine Anita doing that.
NEWCASTLE TAKE THE LEAD
It was hard to get more route one than the game’s opening goal, a long ball up to Ameobi and a rather clumsy one-two with De Jong saw the Nigerian turn and place a shot past Vorm. Newcastle’s long ball tactic had worked and Swansea, for all their composure, were yet to register a shot on target (in fact they only had two all game – both goals).
It was only after the goal Newcastle really started to look confident on the ball and exert some pressure on Swansea but Newcastle’s tentative midfield once again held them back, a couple of situations arose where the Magpies needed a late burst into the box from either Gosling or Tiote but none was forthcoming.
In fact, as Newcastle got more possession it was Swansea who actually looked more dangerous. One time Newcastle player Wayne Routledge was a livewire all game and frequently beat the first man trying to press him (Routledge managed four dribbles all game, double Newcastle’s highest). He only made one key pass, meaning his final ball needed a lot of work but he looked a lot more dangerous than the opposing Gouffran and kept Debuchy on his toes.
In the 34th minute Tiote, dawdling on the edge of his box, was dispossessed and Bony, who had a quiet first half, fired wide. The Ivorian was dispossessed twice in dangerous parts of the pitch in the game but did force three turnovers and make five tackles (bettered only by his midfield partners’ six). Soon afterward Remy was brought on for De Jong, with Remy drifting out onto the left frequently, looking to cut inside and shoot.
A great cross from Debuchy saw Gouffran head wide at the back post with Newcastle still edging the possession with 52% in the run up to half time. Unfortunately, a Swansea corner saw Bony outmuscle Williamson at the near post and flick in an equalizer at the death of the half. A poor half of football with both sides lacking any real penetration.
Just a few minutes after the second half kicked off, Gosling showed what he can do when he gets more advanced, forcing a good low save from Vorm. Swansea though were passing the ball better and Shelvey was getting more advanced himself (he had the most shots of the game – five).
But the best chance of the half fell to Bony, who was put through by a defence-splitting pass by substitute Marvin Emnes, only for Krul to sprint off his line and snuff out the danger.
Gosling was subbed off in the 81st minute for youngster Adam Armstrong (bringing Newcastle’s striker quota back up to three on the pitch). The midfielder had played well from a defensive point of view, putting in lots of tackles and interceptions but his creativity was nil, with their only key passes coming from long balls.
As Ameobi tired – he was forced to play 90 minutes, he got even less mobile. Several decent through balls were easily shepherded out by Swansea players. Armstrong might have been better placed with his youthful exuberance up front but he was forced to cover for Gosling in midfield, a position foreign to him. As it was he only touched the ball six times.
Perhaps if Pardew had another substitution to play with he might have withdrawn Tiote, who was looking tired, but his claim that the penalty would have been avoided if he had been on the sideline is a touch arrogant. It was simply a laboured foul and Bony, the calmest man in the stadium, slotted it past Krul. 2-1 in the dying minutes and game over.
In the second half, with Debuchy performing well at right back, Swansea targeted Dummett. They attacked 46% down that side as they singled him out as a weakness in the back four. He rose to the occasion though and for the second week running he was Newcastle’s best player – although his crossing is dire (0 key passes compared to Debuchy’s two from wide areas).
Dummett made four tackles, five interceptions and a massive 13 clearances. He may have given away two fouls but he looked very solid all game.
A poor game that, in truth, no side deserved to win, but Newcastle were guilty of switching off at the end of both halves and giving the more than 51,000 fans (or whatever was left at the final whistle) in the stand good cause to boo Pardew’s men.
It is no secret Pardew is desperate for a number 10, he doesn’t seem to know how to break down defences without one, but it seems very unfair to shoulder the responsibility onto De Jong, a player low on confidence from a bad spell in Germany and in an unfamiliar league.
Newcastle’s love of the long ball was perhaps best evident in the tackling stats. Despite possession being a relatively level 53%-47% in favour of Swansea, Newcastle’s midfield duo had to make 11 tackles and 9 interceptions, whereas for the Swans trio it was just four interceptions and four tackles. And Newcastle still had a pass success of 74% to Swansea’s 78%.
Arsenal next with Aaron Ramsey looking in full pomp. This could get worse yet for Pardew.
Newcastle: Krul, Anita, Coloccini, Williamson, Dummett, Tiote, Gosling (Arnstrong 81), Gouffran, De Jong (Remy 40), Shola, Cisse (Debuchy 21)
Unused Subs: Elliot, Haidara, Mapou, Steven Taylor
Ref: Chris Foy (Anthony Taylor 31)
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