28.11.10 – Sunday 1.30pm
Barclays Premier League
After suffering a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Bolton in their previous match and only collecting 4 points out of the last 12, Newcastle looked to get back on track in a televised early afternoon kick off at a snowy St James’ Park against the Premier League Champions Chelsea, who were also on a run of poor form after losing their previous match and only collecting 1 point out of the last 12. With both sides looking to end their poor run of form, neither could do enough to take all 3 points in a tight game which ended 1-1.
Here we take a look at the 5 key points from a Newcastle perspective:
1. Absentees allow Chris Hughton to refresh Newcastle team
With Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson both serving the 1st of 3 match bans, after both were charged with violent conduct against Bolton, Joey Barton serving the final game of a 3 match ban and with captain Kevin Nolan missing through injury, it was an opportunity for Hughton to make changes to his starting line up, handing opportunities to several players who have had to be content with a place on the substitute’s bench in recent weeks.
Sol Campbell and Steven Taylor deputized for Coloccini and Williamson in central defence while Wayne Routledge made a rare start on the right side of midfield. Danny Guthrie moved to his favoured central midfield role where he looked instantly more comfortable than when played out wide in recent weeks, with Alan Smith dropping to the bench. Campbell, Taylor, Routledge and Guthrie all looked eager to prove a point to their manager that they are worthy of a regular place in the Newcastle starting line up, culminating in strong performances from each player.
2. Pace and agility in the Newcastle midfield
1 of the highlighted weaknesses of the Newcastle side that got beat 5-1 off Bolton was the lack of pace and agility of the central midfield partnership Nolan and Smith. With Guthrie moving into the central midfield area alongside the returning Cheik Tiote, Newcastle looked far more able to keep up with the pace of a fluid Chelsea side.
Tiote was his reliable self, winning the ball (2 interceptions, 2 tackles) and playing it simple to a teammate on 56 occasions, while Guthrie was equally as effective in winning the ball (1 interception, 3 tackles) while finding a teammate with a pass 49 times . Both players demonstrated an ability to break up play and move the ball forward, which cannot be said for Smith and Nolan. Newcastle’s wide men Routledge and Jonas Gutierrez offered an outlet and between the 4 midfield players, displayed an ability to efficiently retain ball possession.
3. Chelsea forced out wide
In the opening half hour the Newcastle players pressurized the Chelsea players in possession in the same manner that brought Sunderland success in their recent victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. However in the final hour of the game the Newcastle midfield backed off when their opponents were in possession, forming 2 narrow banks of 4 and offering little space in the centre of the pitch for Chelsea to play their intricate football.
Apart from the Chelsea goal in which a slick passing move found a way through Newcastle’s defence, Chelsea were often forced to play the ball out wide in search of space and an opening to play into, while the Newcastle defence were happy to deal with any crosses that came into the box. It was a seemingly dangerous game plan to give opponents of the calibre of Chelsea so much time on the ball, however it was a plan which the Newcastle defence and midfield stuck to gamely and which worked in stifling the Chelsea attacking threat.
4. Chelsea fail to make possession count
With Newcastle retreating while Chelsea were in possession, Chelsea inevitably enjoyed more of the possession with 57% to Newcastle’s 43% and completed more passes 459 to Newcastle’s 317 as they knocked the ball from left to right and back again looking for an opening.
Although they enjoyed more of the possession, Chelsea failed to make it count as they struggled to find an opening, and when they did the collective finishing could be described as wasteful with Kalou missing a virtual open goal and substitute Daniel Sturridge guilty of steering a good chance wide in the final minutes. In 20 attempts at goal, only 7 were on target and apart from the goal, few troubled Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul.
5. Solid and organized Newcastle defence
Preventing Chelsea’s attacking threat is no easy task and a great deal of credit must go to the Newcastle back 4 of Jose Enrique, Danny Simpson, Taylor and Campbell, who were solid, organized, and disciplined, and combined well to cancel out the threat of the Chelsea attack, making 37 clearances and 8 blocks. It was also reassuring to see the defenders keeping it simple and clearing the ball when required rather than take the risks that have been punished in recent weeks.
Jose Enrique made a return to form and was effective in breaking up play, making 3 interceptions, 8 tackles, 5 clearances and 1 block while retaining ball possession with 36 completed passes. While Campbell and Taylor, both starting their 1st Premier League game of the season, were excellent in central defence. Campbell lent on all his experience and his positioning was superb, contributing to him making 10 clearances and 5 tackles, while Taylor was equally impressive making 9 clearances and 6 blocks.
At the end of the day…
In a game that most would have had down as an away win before the match, a draw was an excellent result for Newcastle and there were many positives which could be taken from the game – the performance of the defence, the balance in midfield with 2 wingers and another goal for Andy Carroll, his 9th of the season. It was testament to the performance of the Newcastle defence that Chelsea finished the game with 5 forwards on the pitch and couldn’t find a 2nd goal.
Although some may have seen it as a negative performance from Newcastle, taking the game to Chelsea and allowing space for players of the quality of Malouda, Drogba and Anelka to expose would have been suicidal. Hughton’s game plan of limiting the space by defending narrowly paid off and the Newcastle players deserve credit for sticking to it, frustrating the Chelsea attack and although there were some nervy moments Newcastle hung on to gain an unexpected but well deserved point. 1 more towards survival.
The point took Newcastle up to 9th in the Premier League, on 19 points after 15 games. If the benchmark for survival is 40 points, then Newcastle are only 1 point from being half way to their target with 4 games to go until the midway point of the season is reached.
Next up for Newcastle is a trip to fellow promoted side West Brom at the Hawthorns in another 1.30pm televised kick off next Sunday. With Joey Barton available again on completing his 3 match ban, the choice for Hughton appears to be a straight swap for Guthrie in central midfield or Routledge at right midfield, moving Guthrie to right midfield is simply not an option. With Nolan also likely to be fit again from injury it may be that Ameobi drops down to the bench after a couple of disappointing performances. After drawing at the Hawthorns last season, a point would be welcome against an impressive West Brom side.
Ps – Pat on the back for whoever it was in Level 7 that made up the Cheryl Tweedy chant – ingenious.
28.11.2010 – Sunday 1:30pm
Barclays Premier League
Location: St James’ Park.
Prospects: Unusually prosperous for a Chelsea visit.
Pre-match Gut Feeling: An improvement in the recent Newcastle performances, but still expecting an away win – 3 losses out of 4 is more than enough for them.
The Gaffer: Carlo Ancelotti: As Italian as scooters and sexual harassment, his face shows as much emotion as a mafia hitman. Despite this he seems to possess bags of charisma, his confidence in his own abilities are just and he does this all without an ounce of arrogance. A likeable man in the face of so many whining, wind bag Premiership managers, most of which who possess half his ability. Ancelotti is by no means out of place at the helm of Chelsea – having spent the best part of 15 years at the top of Serie A, roughly 99% of that time with the evergreen squad of AC Milan (only 6 years separated him and his full back Alessandro Costacurta, who seemed to be under the impression he had to wait until 58 to retire along with the rest of the Italian population…). Carlo has recently faced farfetched speculation that his job could soon become untenable – Chelsea would struggle to better him on the basis Mourinho will never sit in the home dugout at Stamford Bridge again while Abramovic owns the club and Sam Allardyce would be too much of a long shot for them… Or maybe they are just monitoring Chris Hughton’s contract situation…
The Team: In its first XI format they are simply awesome, probably the best in the British Isles and one of the very best in Europe – arguable only bettered by the current Barcelona and Real
Madrid outfits. They have everything to beat anyone, anywhere – pace, power, technical ability and intelligence, all over the pitch – personified in Drogba, Essien, Lampard and Cole, they have 4 truly world class players who can decide the outcome of a game by themselves. Crucially to Sunday’s game, Chelsea are missing 2 of these and in addition they have a weakened defence with mainstay John Terry absent. Most notably this season, despite all Chelsea’s qualities in the first XI they look short of the depth that they have had in the past, with a bench regularly filled by youngsters – although few in numbers, weak points are starting to show…
Key to success: Target the back 2 directly, and by directly I don’t mean in the same farcical way we targeted Bolton’s front 2 last week… Out of sorts and looking nowhere near the granite cliff face they were under Mourinho, the right half of defence is a weak link in an otherwise solid team. Drogba will need to have his space minimised and Malouda must see as little of the ball as possible. Against a relatively weaker than usual Chelsea midfield there can be an advantage gained by attacking their defence directly on the floor from midfield – much of which depends on whether Routledge replaces Guthrie and whether Nolan and Gutierrez are interested in playing this weekend…
Direct your abuse at: Ashley Cole. The only man not to be content despite having everything a man could possibly want. Greedy, self-centred pr#ck with a total lack of grasp on reality and an absolute distain for the working man who has helped pay his exorbitant wages over the years. Just like the song says, Ashley Cole, he’s a f#ckin’ ar#ehole…
22 November 2010
In an interview with the Daily Star, former Newcastle midfielder Charles N’Zogbia let us into his egotistical mindset with some comments about his current contractual situation at Wigan Athletic:
“Wigan’s just a stepping stone. They know very well I’m not a player who is going to stay at the club. I give 100 per cent on the pitch, but, if there’s a bigger club that wants me, the manager and the president have always told me the door is open for discussion”.
How professional. Although Steve Bruce, who signed N’Zogbia from Newcastle when manager of Wigan, freely admitted that Wigan was a platform for N’Zogbia to showcase his abilities to bigger clubs, it doesn’t excuse N’Zogbia’s comments as he did exactly the same thing while a Newcastle player under no encouragement from his then manager or chairman. These were his words then as he attempted to tout himself to 3 different clubs in a couple of sentences:
“My agents are talking with Tottenham and Aston Villa, I’m waiting to see what will happen. From what they have told me, Arsenal could also be in the frame, but there hasn’t been a direct approach from them”.
Ambition is not the issue, if anything a player should be commended for wanting to be the best and ply their trade at the highest level, however it is the way in which N’Zogbia has went about securing a move away from Wigan that sticks in the throat. A brazen attempt at lining up a move (isn’t that what his agent gets paid for?) which reeks of a lack of humility, loyalty and commitment to the club paying his wages.
N’Zogbia’s tactic appears to be to pick a team that he fancies playing for and then naming them in a newspaper in a ‘come-and-get-me-plea’. After failing to realize that this didn’t work while a Newcastle player, as he ended up at Real Madrid Wigan, N’Zogbia is applying the same tactic again, this time flirting with French club Olympique Marseille:
“If a big club wants to come in for me, the door is open. Marseille is a big club – no one turns down a club like Olympique Marseille”.
It’s embarrassing really. To be fair to N’Zogbia though, and having been to Wigan, nobody would want to stay there for that long, however his quotes in the press have merely made him look like a sulky untrustworthy individual, perhaps that is why none of the big clubs will take you on Charles? He has also generated an impossible situation for his manager Roberto Martinez who now faces the prospect of raising a generous transfer fee for a want-a-way player, nice one N’Zog.
“When I see certain friends playing in the Champions League or others like Lassana or Florent Sinama-Pongolle with the France team, it makes me drool. I say to myself: Why not me?“
Firstly because nobody likes a drooler, and secondly maybe it’s because you’re just not as good as they are and, unlike Cristiano Ronaldo or Kaka, can’t command a move to whoever you please whenever you please.
The saying, ‘I want never gets’ has never been more appropriate.
On the afternoon of Monday 23 November 2010, the Football Association announced that Newcastle’s Mike Williamson had been charged with violent conduct for an off the ball collision with Bolton’s Johan Elmander, resulting in a likely 3 match ban. An incident which at the time referee Howard Webb decided only merited a talking too.
It is the second time in a matter of weeks that Newcastle players have been charged by video evidence, with Joey Barton handed a 3 match ban for punching Blackburn’s Morten Gamst Pedersen only a few weeks ago. With Newcastle being the only Premier League side to be charged retrospectively using video evidence this season, on 2 occasions, it’s hard not to feel aggrieved.
Yes, the Barton punch was as clear as day and merited the 3 match ban that was handed out, however the Williamson incident is debatable at best – on several replay viewings it is still not clear cut what actually happened. It was most likely a deliberate attempt by Williamson to block the run of Elmander which would have resulted in a yellow card (unless it is Nicklas Bendtner barging into Mike Williamson in which it is apparently fine). Quite how the FA can interpret this as violent conduct on such sketchy video footage (image right) is a mystery.
What is infuriating is that far worse incidents have been committed by players of other teams which have gone completely unpunished. Already this season there have been 3 incidents in games involving fouls on Newcastle players:
1. Karl Henry kicks 10 bells out of Joey Barton
In a deliberate attempt to provoke the short temper of Newcastle’s Joey Barton, Wolves’ Karl Henry set about lunging at, kicking and stamping on Joey Barton at any given opportunity. At least 2 of the tackles could have merited a straight red card. Henry’s punishment for his 7 fouls on Barton – 1 yellow card.
2. Fellaini elbow on Williamson
In the Everton vs Newcastle fixture in September, Everton’s Marouane Fellaini swung an elbow at Mike Williamson, connecting with the Newcastle defender’s chin and knocking him to the floor. Referee Andre Marriner, although only yards from the incident, decided that an elbow to an opponent’s face is no longer worthy of a red card and the FA took the same approach. Fellaini got away scot free.
3. Nigel De Jong breaks Hatem Ben Arfa’s leg
In perhaps the most obvious example of the FA turning a blind eye took place when Man City’s Nigel De Jong callously jumped in 2 footed on Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa, breaking the Newcastle winger’s leg in 2 places. Not only did referee Martin Atkinson ignore the incident at the time although only being 5 yards away, the FA also failed to act and De Jong got away scot free, no red card, no retrospective ban.
Notice a pattern?
Other notable incidents in which the FA have failed to punish players this season include:
* Cesc Fabregas’ tackle on Stephen Ward who was stretchered off – yellow card
* Lee Cattermole’s 2 footed tackle on Luka Modric – yellow card
* Steven Sidwell’s leg breaking challenge on Adlene Guedioura – yellow card
* Karl Henry’s leg breaking challenge on Bobby Zamora – no punishment
But the most recent and notable incident involved an incident in which Tottenham’s Tom Huddlestone clearly stamped on Johan Elmander. Even Huddlestone’s manager Harry Redknapp thought that he ‘got away with it’, writing in his column in The Sun, ‘I have to admit he was a very lucky boy not to get punished by the FA this week. When I saw the replay of him kicking out at Bolton’s Johan Elmander I really thought he was going to be banned’. So what did the FA do considering that the referee had taken no action and Redknapp had consigned himself to losing Huddlestone to a ban? Absolutely nothing.
A blatant stamp by Huddlestone, the referee takes no action and when the FA are entitled to hand out a ban they choose to do nothing. Williamson pushes Elmander at worst the referee takes no action however the FA decide it is worth intervening, slapping Williamson with a 3 match ban. It’s seemingly one rule for Tottenham and another for Newcastle.
Perhaps the FA know that if they hand out a ban to a player of Chris Hughtons that they are unlikely to get much of a retort from the Newcastle manager. Whereas upsetting Harry Redknapp or Alex Ferguson might result in an almighty huff and refusal to speak to the media. Diddums. For whatever reason the FA appear to be making an example out of Newcastle, while giving preferential treatment and the benefit of the doubt to other sides.
The current inconsistency is infuriating and makes a mockery of the disciplinary process. A procedure must be put in place to ensure that all incidents are treat the same regardless of a player’s history, the club he plays for or whether it will upset the manager of his club. Consistency and fairness is all we ask.
At the time of writing, Mike Williamson has appealed against his 3 match ban with a decision likely to be made on Wednesday 24 November 2010. All the best Mike, it looks like you’ll need it.
Carlos Tevez’ Winter Attire
Episode 3 of the Leazes Terrace crusade to highlight footballing fashion atrocities (or just to have cheap digs at millionaires that can afford to look as stupid as they want with their jacuzzi’s spilling over the brim with cash and supermodels while I get the bus to work) comes straight from the unmistakable and ‘interesting’ neck of Carlos Tevez.
Despite the deep, mercilessly cold British winter merely a prospect at the moment and the temperatures of the great British isles being on the comfortable side of frost bite, our friend Carlos is taking no chances, turning up to games now with more clothes on than some poor ripped off patron in stands. Thermals are no surprise, being sported by a number of current Premiership players, but wearing a buff / neckerchief / imitation scarf while playing football is taking it a tad towards the ridiculous – especially in the case of Tevez, the player who’s work rate is akin to a man being in fear of being whipped if he stand still for more than 30 seconds.
Now as you will know, football is a maaaaan’s game (gggrrr) and the mere sight of gloves on a modern player leads to ex pro’s wailing like a rhinoceros with a spear up its derriere – but Carlos pushes their grievances to new levels. Gloves, long sleeved insulated base layers and socks terminating at the testicles are one thing – but the neck scarf really is embarrassing. The only excuse we can fathom is that Carlos is taking skiing lessons post match and has no time to change (which would explain why he seems be subbed at the 75min mark every week). We look forward to him taking to the field in a balaclava and Royal marine commando snow boots mid January and applaud his battle against frost bite. Muy bien Carlos!
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