The reverse fixture to the opening day ended in the reverse result; it was well deserved but hard fought though. Newcastle’s January supermarché sweep certainly seems to have squirted some air back into their deflating balloon of a season and they’ll prove a much tougher nut to crack in 2013 than they were in the latter half of 2012.

All of Debuchy, Gouffran and Sissoko looked good, it’s a shame for them that they were let down by one of the old guard at crucial moments, want away skipper Coloccini flooring Dempsey for the free-kick that gave Bale his first after 5 minutes and then attempting to stop the Welshman with only a powder-puff challenge as the latter powered clear for his second with 12 minutes of normal time left. In between Gouffran’s deflected shot gave the Geordies a fortunate equaliser, albeit one the rest of their first half performance merited.

AVB’s decision to leave the fresh off the plane Adebayor on the bench and give the equally jet-lagged but exponentially more willing Dempsey another run out in a position that doesn’t suit him looked justified early on as we poured forward. Holtby’s quick distribution and Bale and Lennon’s movement caused all sorts of problems, we managed only the one goal however and the away side came more into the game. Gouffran’s goal had been preceded by a bad miss by Cisse but they created no more openings before half-time despite the increasing influence of Cabaye and Sissoko.

Personally I thought we’d see Adebayor for Dempsey at the interval but instead Villas-Boas made a tactical switch moving Bale into the middle and Holtby wide. It worked to an extent as we regained the initiative and pushed Newcastle back. Dempsey’s lack of mobility and speed was still a hindrance and when Adebayor did eventually make his appearance, it surprised everyone that it was in place of Holtby rather than the American. Dempsey moved to the left where he looked far more comfortable and when Assou-Ekotto came on we looked properly balanced at last.

Bale’s second came and a third, fourth and even fifth could have followed as the away team committed players forward in search of an equaliser and we hit them on the break. A leveller nearly arrived when the ball broke for Ameobi but Lloris proved himself the decisive French influence on the game by getting enough on big Shola’s prod to deflect it wide.

A one man team? No, not at all but, at the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the man in question is in tremendous form. Every team needs leaders and why not have one that leads by example?

Aaron Lennon had an excellent game as did Parker and Dembelé. Dawson lost more than he won against Cisse and Sissoko but the defence was generally solid and Lloris confident behind them. Man of the match was Bale of course but special mention should be made of AVB whose tactical change and substitutions firstly enabled us to regain lost ground and then force the win.
Two more French dates to come before we return to league action, then it’s Hammer time.

By MF

7 Responses

  1. Edwin

    I think Holtby played exceptionally in the first half.Defoe’s injury is a blessing in disguise cos the lads know there is more work to do now.we needed some one to stand up n be counted cos goals have been hard to come by this term.Dawson really deserves some credit for keeping Cisse quiet.

    Avb is doing a good job n we will continue supporting him.

    Reply
  2. alexiswolfe

    Asside from passing what I thought was a bit of an acid test in beating a rejuvinated, skillful and powerful Newcastle team,…

    What pleased me was the resting of Vertonghen and Benoit, and the trusting of Naughton and Caulker in their place. Expecting a tough game one might have wanted 1st choices all the way through. I would not have had the bottle to rest these players, even after their mid-week exertions, it wouldn't have even have crossed Harry's mind, but AVB did, and he was right and bold: we should be able to, and can trust these players.

    Reply
  3. Scott

    Dawson didn't keep Cisse quiet he ran rings round him and Caulker but agree with AVB is doing a good job

    Reply
    • alexiswolfe

      Hardly, I can only recall Newcastle making two chances: the free header (fair enough); and the goal.
      Newcastle's goal came via a deflection; so, althought it may have gone in anyway, it may also have missed the target and the deflection denied Lloris the chance to save it. – fortunate deflection.
      The Shola chance at the end, again, was not the result of a well crafted chance, but good fortune that BAE's interception fell close to their striker.

      On the whole i thought that Dawson and Caulker were pretty solid with good positioning and anticipation.

      Reply
  4. the_unchosen_one

    Pretty close to a 1 man performance which is a trifle worrying; as is the lack of goals aside from Bale who is undoubtedly one of the best in the world right now.
    A lot now depends on Adebayor upping his game towards last seaons high level – if that can happen then I think we could just be okay. toons definitely played into our hands after Bale's 2nd solo effort as then they had to start taking chances and opening themselves up, but prior to that we just weren't creating very much apart from the usual high possession stats, I think it was 2 shots on target per side.
    Yet like a team of silent ninja assassins we keep picking up the points !

    Reply
  5. Maximillian

    Dembele was terrible, with hardly a pass going where he intended and when he lost it he wasn't his usual terrier self. Adebayor makes me long for Rebrov or Postiga.
    The D was solid, and we're much better with Dawson instead of Gallas and BAE on the left.
    Walker still needs to learn how to cross/take corners though.

    Reply

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