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Match Reports

Newcastle v Cardiff A Sign Of Bouncing Back? Full Stats and Analysis

8 years ago
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Newcastle v Cardiff Match Report

Newcastle 3 Cardiff 0  Saturday 3 May 3pm

Facing an atmosphere so hostile he dare not even leave his dug out, Alan Pardew knew Saturday’s match against Cardiff was simply a must win if he was to have any hope of a future as Newcastle manager.

Hatem Spotted In Crowd

Lacklustre tactics, the ostracising of fan favourite Hatem Ben Arfa and an eagerness to tow the party line, have all seen him become public enemy number one on Tyneside, despite the vitriol that still surrounds Mike Ashley.

Cardiff meanwhile have been in almost consistent free fall since late Autumn with former manager Malky Mackay undermined before being sacked and replaced with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian manager’s first game in charge was 2-1 at St James’s Park, to knock the Magpies out of the FA Cup at the third round (again), but since then he has struggled in the Premiership.

FORMATIONS

Newcastle lined up in a 4-4-2 with Shola Ameobi partnering Loic Remy up front – for what was likely to be the last time either will play in black and white, with Ameobi’s contract set to expire and Remy to return to Queen’s Park Rangers.

In midfield once again it was Yoan Gouffran, Vurnon Anita, Cheick Tiote and Moussa Sissoko – a combination which has shown plenty of industry but little in the way of creativity, despite Anita’s reputation at Ajax.

In defence, Paul Dummett once again was given a starting berth at left back along with Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Mathieu Debuchy.

Cardiff meanwhile gave starts to Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Mutch and former Sunderland player Frazier Campbell. The Bluebirds line up in a 4-4-1-1 formation which – on paper at least – threatened to overrun Newcastle’s midfield with Aron Gunnarson dropping deep to help Mutch and Peter Whittingham.

18 year old Declan John was given the start at left back with the Bluebirds suffering a slight injury crisis in defence.

START

The game took a while to settle down, with Pardew staying in his dugout for fear of adding to the hostile atmosphere. Campbell missed a good early chance to put the visitors ahead, scuffing his shot wide after Tim Krul made a hash of Fabio’s cross. There have been rumours surrounding the Dutchman’s future at the club and while his shot-stopping is excellent, his decision making and particularly his distribution let him down.

Early on though it was Newcastle who looked more dangerous – although both side looked toothless in the final third. Sissoko and Debuchy made several marauding runs down the right hand side – targeting the inexperienced John.

Sissoko had one of his best games this season, and was keen to double up on Declan John

From a Sissoko cross in the very first minute, Remy should have done better, but his shot was blocked. Not long afterward a thunderous shot from Debuchy was well saved by David Marshall.

From the resulting corner, it was Debuchy once again who saw Marshall palm his header onto the woodwork.

In the 18th minute Newcastle raided down the right hand side again, this time with Sissoko, whose inch perfect cross was headed in at the far post by Ameobi.  Kim Bo-Kyung – who was hauled off at half time -wasn’t giving any protection to his beleaguered left back (in his 45 minutes on the pitch Bo-Kyung managed just 21 touches, one shot and one tackle).

MIDFIELD BATTLE

Pardew may get criticism from the fans for filling his 11 with workhorses, rather than technically gifted players, but against a naive and shockingly uncommitted Cardiff City side it was more than enough.

Anita and Tiote, who are yet to convince fans they work as a partnership, looked comfortable in midfield for much of the game. The Ivorian may have given away two fouls but he racked up a massive 94 touches, won four dribbles and made two interceptions. His habit of dallying on the ball paying off against some weak Cardiff tackling.

Cardiff’s midfield was even less creative than Newcastle with Mutch particularly wasteful (five shots, none on target). Whittingham at least made four key passes and three interceptions, his midfield partner didn’t manage a single of the latter.

It was Sissoko who really made the difference here though. Along with setting up Ameobi’s opener the Frenchman twice come close to doubling  their lead, seeing a shot and then a cross deflected against the woodwork.

SECOND HALF

At half time Pardew made his customary left back substitution – Massadio Haidara replacing Dummett – who had struggled with Zaha (the on-loan winger managed six complete dribbles and was Cardiff’s one consistent threat until he faded in the second half).

Zaha looked dangerous, switching wings to probe Newcastle but faded in the second half

Bo-Kyung was hooked for former Magpie Craig Bellamy but the boyhood Cardiff fan could do little to stop his sides shortcomings in midfield and the final third.

With Newcastle edging the possession battle (54-46%) Cardiff offered little on the counter attack and Frazier Campbell, who looked so dangerous early on in the season, struggled (his only shot coming in the first few minutes of the first half).

The start of the second half was poor from both teams with neither offering much going forward. The biggest talking point was in the 69th minute when thousands of fans left the stadium in protest at Mike Ashley’s running of the club, more exciting than some of the football being played. Despite being 1-0 up, the atmosphere also got more hostile as numerous anti-Pardew/Ashley banners were displayed around the ground.

If Newcastle don’t invest in the summer season ticket renewals could be at an all time low.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Gouffran, who has looked very tired in the last half a dozen games, was taken off for Dan Gosling in the 70th minute. The midfielder has been unspectacular since given his chance following the departure of Cabaye. With 20 minutes to play he was given more of a defensive remit with Pardew well aware how costly a loss would be.

The introduction of Kenwyne Jones with 17 minutes to go, showed Solskjaer was willing to go direct in an attempt to secure the Bluebirds Premier League status, and it sparked his team into life, albeit temporarily.

The striker had an almost immediate impact, forcing a point blank stop from Krul,  but Cardiff’s frustration continued when Coloccini somehow cleared Gunnarsson’s shot off the line with Krul nowhere. Gunnarsson, who played poorly all game (35 touches, one foul, one shot) blew the best chance Cardiff had in the whole 90 minutes.

Jones had just six touches of the ball but his presence was enough to unsettle both Williamson and Coloccini, who had looked so comfortable with Cardiff rarely threatening in behind.

After that, Cardiff seemed consigned to defeat but Pardew refused to chance his arm, replacing Anita with Steven Taylor in another defensive substitution (Cardiff’s flurry of chances worrying the manager). Newcastle were playing three at the back once again.

One last throw of the dice by the former Molde manager saw Magnus Wolff Eikrem come on for Fabio in the 86th minute. Soon after, Remy was left alone to slot home and Taylor completed the scoring from even closer after Remy’s header was saved. Where did the cross come from? The right hand side once again.

STAR PLAYER

Previous performances since the departure of Yohan Cabaye have made the picking of a star player difficult, but for Saturday’s match against the Bluebirds one Newcastle player really stood out above the rest – Mathieu Debuchy.

The full back was rightly criticised this time last season as he struggled to adapt to the pace and rigours of the Premier League but, credit where it’s due, this season he has quickly become one of the best right backs in the league. Against Cardiff he was at his marauding best.

Debuchy was a constant threat down the right hand side

The former Lille man made a massive six tackles, along with one interception and seven clearances. He also had three shots, two on target, and made one key pass. Zaha turned him inside out on one occasion in the first half after switching wings, other than that though it was an almost faultless display.

CONCLUSION

A 3-0 win flatters Newcastle. In truth, the Bluebirds were abject and Newcastle scarcely better, but for some luck and sloppy mistakes in the closing minutes. Nonetheless, Cardiff never consistently threatened the Magpies’ goal and Newcastle deserved the win.

Just one game left this season and then a vast squad overhaul is forecast in the summer. If Pardew stays this could be the last time we see Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in the squad and Ben Arfa in the stadium, both of whom have been given the cold shoulder in the second half of the season.

Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Dummett (Haidara 46), Tiote, Anita (Steven Taylor 79), Sissoko, Gouffran (Gosling 70), Remy, Shola

Unused Subs: Elliot, Mapou, Armstrong, De Jong

Ref: Martin Atkinson

Crowd: 50,239

You can follow Tom on Twitter @WeeklyNewsBay

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