Sep 22, 2010

Things they said..and probably shouldn’t have #3

Rafael Van Der Vaart and wife SylvieRafael Van Der Vaart

20 September 2010:

previewing the Tottenham vs Arsenal Carling Cup tie, Van Der Vaart had this to say about the rivalry:

“I know Robin (Van Persie) and he told me when we were together in the national team what a big game it is, but there was no banter over who is the bigger club. Spurs are the bigger club

Van Der Vaart is quickly becoming a favourite at Leazes Terrace for his bizarre comments, it’s uncertain whether he was referring to the amount of trophies won, recent league positions, fixtures between the 2 sides or even stadium size as Arsenal come out on top in each of these categories.

Just to make his comments look that little bit dafter, Tottenham (the bigger club) then proceeded to get beat 4-1 off Arsenal (the smaller club) in the Carling Cup last night.

It may well be that Van Der Vaart has a tongue in cheek style of humour that we just haven’t got yet? or that just doesn’t come across in print? Who knows, it might just be that this humour helped him nab his wife, Sylvie (a tenuous link to show a picture of her?).

ps –  unless Van Der Vaart wants to star in a WKD advert, or the latest Danny Dyer film, someone should tell him to try to avoid using the word ‘banter’ at all costs…

Sep 21, 2010

Things they said..and probably shouldn’t have #2

Soccer Saturday Panel – Predictions

18 September 2010:

Everton 3 vs 0 Newcastle” – Matt Le Tissier
Everton 3 vs 1 Newcastle” – Paul Merson
Everton 2 vs 0 Newcastle” – Phil Thompson
Everton 3 vs 1 Newcastle” – Charlie Nicholas

‘Everton, Newcastle? They’re not in the top 4 are they? No don’t bother getting us any research for this one we’ll just look quickly at their last result, right – Everton drew, Newcastle lost, easy home win, all agreed? aye!’

And the correct result?

Everton 0 vs 1 Newcastle. 0 out of 4 for the footballing ‘experts’…

Sep 19, 2010

Match Report: Everton (A)

Can I have a view with that post please?

18.09.2010 – Saturday 3:00pm

Barclays Premier League

Everton – 0

Newcastle United – 1

Ben Arfa

Location: Goodison Park
MOM: Hatem Ben Arfa
NUFC Performance: 9/10

Rocky 0 – 1 Rocket!

I wonder if Sly Stallone was watching this game.  Surely with the obscene amount of cash he’s made from being filmed having big muscles, a deep voice and zero sophistication he could set up a live feed to Goodison Park to watch his beloved Everton at any point in between filming the latest Hollywood blow-em-up b#llocks.  No idea why he would want to?  In reality, neither have I – who would want to gaze longingly at a stadium constructed 70% out of rotting wood and carved around the local council houses. But in case you’re wondering may I cast your mind back to this…

Good old Rocky himself is apparently an Everton fan! Genuinely as well, and in no way would that relate to any past, present or future film promotion…  I say good luck to the man anyway – it makes a change to the standard Americanism of supporting either Manchester Rovers or Chelsea All Stars.  The people’s champ seems to slot quite well with Everton’s self professed ‘people’s club’ tagging.  However, the chances that he was actually watching are about as likely as seeing John Prescott pose topless in playboy magazine. If he had been watching he would be quickly changing his chang beer for a brown ale as the blue half of Merseyside failed to turn up at any point and created the easiest away victory for a Newcastle side since the thrashing of Ipswich on their own parish just less than a year earlier.

Newcastle, as standard these days, started cautiously, sizing up their opponent, jabbing at the Everton skin here and there to locate weaknesses.  Soon it became apparent the ‘people’s club’ had a person missing at right back and the ever energetic Jose Enrique started to maraud up the left flank with the debutant Ben Arfa linking well and creating headaches of his own.  Despite this the game was lacking a serious break through, which came in some style just before the stroke of half time.  An industrious run infield by the tireless Routledge found Ben Arfa on his left – Everton defenders quite happy to deal with a potential cross showed him outside and effectively said ‘go on new kid – you think your all that, have a shot then…’.  He duly replied and set off a rocket from roughly 25 yards flying into the top corner of the net.

An Everton fight back was expected in the second half and despite having the home advantage, which included the hapless and ridiculous referee Andre Marriner (6 years too long as top flight referee) – whose insistence of giving Everton a free kick every time one of their players hit the deck was only bettered by his two howlers that would have had Stevie Wonder rubbing his eyes in disbelief.  The first being a Fellaini elbow on Williamson which was seen and deemed only a yellow card (in keeping with the physical abuse we had against Wolves) and the second, a clumsy but clean take down on Nolan as he bared down on goal, again with a clear, close view of the challenge, yet inexplicably waved on.

Despite an attempted injury time fight back we hung on fairly comfortably and registered our first away win of the season.  On another point, although it was disappointing to see Harper injured after a clumsy but not malicious challenge from Beckford, I look forward to seeing Tim Krul have his chance to prove himself at the highest level.

Sep 19, 2010

Everton (A) in 5 key points

18.09.2010 – Saturday 3.00pm
Barclays Premier League

Hatem Ben Arfa celebrating goal against EvertonEverton 0

Newcastle 1
Ben Arfa 45

After a disappointing home defeat against Blackpool in their last game, Newcastle travelled to Goodison Park for their Premier League tie against Everton. On a ground where they have struggled in the past, a point would have been seen as a good result.

However, Newcastle exceeded all expectations and left with all 3 points following a fantastic 1-0 victory. After conceding a goal at the end of the 1st half the previous week, Newcastle popped up with a 45th minute goal of their own, courtesy of a stunning 25 yard strike from Marseille loanee Hatem Ben Arfa, which proved to be decisive as the only goal of the game.

Here at Leazes Terrace we take a look at the 5 key points to analyse where it went right for Newcastle:

1. Return to the 4-5-1 ‘away’ formation

After an unsuccessful 4-4-2 formation in the previous game, Chris Hughton returned to the 4-5-1 formation which was largely used in away games last season in the Championship and which has proved successful this season against Aston Villa and Wolves.

As we predicted following the Blackpool defeat, Tiote and Ben Arfa came in for Smith and Gutierrez, while Nolan dropped back into midfield to make up the midfield 5, something that the Newcastle players appear to be more comfortable with. It also gave Newcastle a numerical advantage in midfield where they were able to enjoy and retain posession, 55% compared to Everton’s 45%, while also using the numerical advantage in midfield to pressurise the Everton players in posession, with the midfield making 14 interceptions and 20 tackles. They also combined well to stifle one of Everton’s danger men Marouane Fellaini who only managed to complete 10 passes.

2. Nolan’s return to the midfield

Kevin Nolan returned to the midfield to take up his position as the most forward man in the central midfield 3. This is a position which Nolan seems to relish and where he can have more of an impact on the game. It allows him to act as the link man between the midfield and forward(s), timing his runs to perfection and rarely getting caught offside (take note Shola), this should have resulted in a penalty award against Everton if it weren’t for the ineptness of referee Andre Marriner failing to spot a blatant foul on him in the box.

Nolan’s contribution was highlighted by the fact he completed 36 passes and 6 tackles, compared to the previous game against Blackpool where he was played out of position as a forward and only completed 13 passes and 0 tackles, lending strength to the argument that he works better as an attacking midfield player.

3. Jose Enrique owns the left hand side

A key performer last year in the Championship, Jose Enrique has carried on his excellent form in the Premier League and was in top form again against Everton.

As well as being difficult to get past thanks to his pace and frame, Enrique displayed his passing ability, completing 42 passes, while also successfully and accurately finding a Newcastle teammate with 6 clearances. Enrique was also keen to get forward and bring the ball out of defence, something which is highlighted by the fact that 57% of his passes were made around the half way line.

‘Get some paint on your boots son’ were the words of wisdom that I was given back in my left wing days, to emphasise the point that I should’ve been closer to the touchline. Perhaps Enrique was given similar advice, against Everton he spent 98% of the game in the left quadrant of the pitch, if it’s not broke then don’t try and fix it right?

4. Joey Barton excellent in midfield

Joey Barton continued his excellent start to the season and was dominant in the midfield. He was key in breaking up the Everton attacks, making 3 tackles and 2 interceptions, while also making forward runs when in possession and keeping the ball moving in midfield, completing 39 passes. It’s testament to Barton that he is now arguably 1 of the first names on the teamsheet following a disappointing and injury-prone first 3 years at the club. A real contender for man of the match.

5. Promising full debuts from new boys

There is a common excuse belief that players from abroad need a ‘settling in’ period in English football. This notion didn’t apply to Cheick Tiote and Hatem Ben Arfa who both slotted into the team at ease on their full debuts.

Tiote had a solid game in the centre of midfield and was key in Newcastle retaining possession, completing an impressive 100% of attempted passes: 43 attempted, 43 completed as well as breaking up play with 3 tackles.

Ben Arfa capped a promising debut with a fantastic goal. Playing as a winger he demonstrated his ability to run at and beat the opposition, while offering a outlet on the counter attack. Ben Arfa has been compared to other French ex-Newcastle players: Ginola and Robert, 2 players who were excellent going forward but were criticised for their defensive side of the game, this doesn’t seem to be an issue for Ben Arfa who showed his ability to ‘get stuck in’ by completing 7 tackles and making 5 interceptions.

At the end of the day..

This was a superb result for Newcastle and an excellent way to bounceback following the disappointment of the previous game against Blackpool.

Newcastle were the better team throughout, enjoying more possession 55% to Everton’s 45% and more shots on target 4 to Everton’s 3, and were good value for the win.

Credit must go to Chris Hughton for getting the tactics and team selection spot on, as well as looking to have strengthened the team with some shrewd signings in Ben Arfa and Tiote. Newcastle’s defence has come under a lot of criticism in recent years but there seems to be a strong understanding between the back four and they must share some of the credit for preventing Everton from scoring and achieving a 2nd Premier League clean sheet of the season. Interestingly, Coloccini made 0 tackles for the 2nd game running.

The next game against Chelsea in the Carling Cup will presumably see Hughton rest a few of his first team players ahead of the home game next Sunday against Stoke, where it is likely the same side that started this game will be named except for Krul in for the injured Harper as well as a replacement for Perch who will begin a suspension following his 5th booking in 5 games.

ps – this was the Liverpool Echo’s take on the game:

Worryingly, Everton were outplayed by a visiting side with less supposedly world-class players and one which was largely unchanged from the team relegated two seasons ago

Firstly, I can’t think of 1 single world class player that Everton have. Secondly this Newcastle team had 8 changes to it from the team that played against Aston Villa on the day Newcastle were relegated, hardly largely unchanged

Sep 13, 2010

Match Report: Blackpool (H)

Holland - the poor man's Blackpool

11.09.2010 – Saturday 3:00pm

Barclays Premier League

Newcastle United – 0

Blackpool – 2

Adam (pen), Campbell

Location: St James
MOM: Charlie Adam
NUFC Performance: 3/10

Expecting the expected…

Of course it was going to happen.  Like a fat lass heading for a free buffet, you could see this coming from a mile away.  Football, and in particular Newcastle United, is so unpredictable it has paradoxically become predictable.  We came into this match on the back of a solid point (and miraculously no broken bones) at the cage fighting ring that is Molineux, and the sound spanking of Aston Villa, playing a team that no shorter than 4 league home matches previously we had rang a comfortable 4-1 win against.  Of course we’ll pick up 3 points again – sure Blackpool are on the crest of a wave and fear no-one as their premiership life flourishes to the satisfaction of genuine lovers of football, but we are a newly promoted team also and have the benefit of knowing what to expect of Blackpool.  What we failed to expect however was the expected.

Before this season started I made the bold (and frankly ridiculous) statement that ‘no team in the premiership had an excuse to lose to Blackpool at home’.  After seeing them surge late into the playoffs after being generally decent but not a genuine threat to the head end of the Championship table, there was no reason to expect that their tenure in the world’s most overrated league would be anything other than a long, hard slog – the kind of which would make a long bleak winter mining iron ore in the depths of Siberia look more appealing.  However, I fell into the same trap that found me in the company of Soccer Saturday’s finest ‘experts’ (a term used upon these men so loosely it would be more accurate to describe them all as piano playing Bolivian sock merchants) in brashly underplaying the little new addition’s chance of success.  I have recognised my heinous mistake and have since punished myself duly by watching and re-watching our deserved reverse at the hands of Blackpool (I tried telling myself we were playing Holland instead, but that held no weight as this team clad in orange were actually playing football and not kicking us up a f#ckin’ height).

Regardless, it was just one of those days for Newcastle.  We deserved to lose, no doubt, I mean, howay – we couldn’t score – you don’t score you don’t win, it’s not hard to work that out.  But if we had scored any of our early chances, Nolan’s 1 on 1, Williamson’s header off the post, then I thoroughly believe the day would have been different.  But having Alan Smith on the pitch always equals liability and having the oaf in your own box with the opposition in possession has a direct route towards a penalty being award. I’m guessing on his tackling performances he’s been mentoring James Perch… 0-1 down at half time – not the best of scenarios but huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf after smoking a 200 sleeve got us nowhere in the 2nd half as the ball just couldn’t find the back of the net through a combination of over confidence, weak shooting and an alert Matt Gilks.  Ultimately our frantic pressing lead to leaving a grand total of no players at the back to defend a Blackpool counter, with Dudley-Johnson Campbell (he’s has never and will never be a ‘DJ’) slotting a fine finish in the Leazes goal to leave us staring at our first real, and thoroughly disappointing defeat of the season.  Should have seen it coming…


  • NUFC blog varying from inane rantings to precision statistical analysis. Alternative match previews & reports plus a broader based (and heavily biased) footballing opinion on anything worthy of annoyance.

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