Newcastle managed to preserve their unbeaten start to the season with a 0-0 draw at Loftus Road, the home of QPR, last night.
The game was a very much one sided affair but our sturdy defence once again held out for its 3rd clean sheet of the season, and gained us a point to take us into the Champions League places. Hmmm I can smell the qualifiers already…
The game began slowly with both sides struggling to string anything together, but it was QPR who sprung to life first. Adel Taarabt found pockets of space between the lines of defence and midfield and started to pull the strings. He found Shaun Wright-Phillips out wide who crossed for Bothroyd who blazed over from 10 yards squandering what turned out to be the best chance of the game.
Newcastle created little in the first half bar a touch of brilliance from Leon Best. The ball was played into him and he sold the dummy to Danny Gabbidon with a fake shot struck an effort towards goal which was pushed round the post by the R’s goalkeeper Paddy Kenny.
QPR created numerous more chances with Ryan Taylor being ripped a new behind by Shaun Wright-Phillips every time he got the ball. The pacey winger beat Taylor and found Bothroyd again who was held up by Steven Taylor, before Faurlin’s poked effort and goal was deflected by an almost anonymous Cheik Tiote.
As the half wore on Newcastle were thankful to two of their defenders for two separate goal line clearances. Once again Shaun Wright-Phillips got in behind Ryan Taylor and then dinked the ball over an onrushing Tim Krul only to be denied on the line by the super Steven Taylor.
A little later it was Danny Simpson to thank when a QPR player rose to meet a corner from the right and header it right in the bottom corner only for Danny Simpson to hack the ball away to keep the scores level.
The first half came to a close with Newcastle on the attack. Poor build up by QPR on the left let Jonas Gutierrez in behind them, but as usual he didn’t run at them and dallied on the ball meaning that they could retreat and blocked what was a tame shot.
I wasn’t worried at this point as we haven’t played a good first half yet this season, and I thought it would surely improve in the second half when Pardew had told them his views. Nothing really improved; apart from the fact that we were a lot more compact and didn’t particularly look like conceding.
We were still lacking severely up front and in the second half no team really looked like they were going to score. Jonas had one chance in the second half when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box and he hit it with his swinger of a left foot and it flew dangerously towards row Z. Apart from that and a couple of half chances for Gabriel Obertan and his abnormally large head we didn’t look testing.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was voted man of the match, helped us keep a clean sheet by moving more into the middle of the pitch and letting Ryan Taylor recover from his horror show in the first half. Wright-Phillips did get one chance with a volley which he miscued to the amusement of the Newcastle faithful.
Around the hour mark the woeful Shola Ameobi was replaced by Demba Ba, who looked bright and tried to link up the play a lot more than Shola. Ba won plenty of flick ons but no one seemed to be able to read where they were going to land. He also showed he had some skill and fight about him when battling in the middle of the park.
Best was replaced with Sylvain Marveuax with 10 minutes to go and got a couple of touches. This meant that Jonas was playing off the striker, which puzzled me. Jonas had played his own position poorly and when moved he was just as bad, but at that time we were just keeping a draw.
QPR skipper Joey Barton rallied his players throughout the game in a solid yet unspectacular performance by himself. His delivery was average, and he still tries the wonder ball, but he did add bite to their midfield alongside the swagger of Adel Taarabt.
Shaun Derry had the biggest opportunities of the second half for the R’s when he twice headed wide from corners after losing his man, Cheik Tiote. But for a game which they heavily dominated Tim Krul wasn’t tested that much, which is a credit to our defence.
Sammy Ameobi got a small run out on 87 minutes and he didn’t have time to impact on the game, but unsurprisingly did more running at the full back then Jonas and Obertan did all game, to my annoyance.
In a game where we didn’t play particularly well I’d like to give credit to Steven Taylor who would have been my man of the match – just for us of course. He stuck to his task all game and saved what could have been two goals. If he was playing on the other side tonight he’d be a shoe in for an England call up, with them being based in London and that.
My worries of the game were mainly the two wingers and Ryan Taylor. The wingers didn’t run at the defenders at all, even though they looked very shaky. Obertan was more productive than Jonas who seems to really be missing Enrique. Ryan Taylor had a shocker, he was well and truly destroyed by Shaun Wright-Phillips in the first half and surely he will be replaced by Davide Santon for the game against Villa.
A lot of fans criticised Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye although I feel that some of that is harsh in my opinion. Tiote wasn’t great, he was very sloppy in possession but he made some crucial tackles, and a great block to prevent Faurlin poking in a goal in the first half. He will improve though, you don’t turn a poor player overnight, and surely last year’s performances buy him some time?
As for Cabaye, it was simply the case of the system not suiting him. We were overrun by their 3 in midfield and he had to defend a lot in the game, we couldn’t go through the middle as the had us marked with their extra man, so we went long and it wasn’t pretty. Cabaye would have been better playing off a striker with Guthrie or Gosling in the middle, because playing so deep kept him quiet and stifled his creative influence.
A lot of fans are very unhappy with our performance, and I can kind of understand why. We didn’t look great going forward, but it’s hardly the horror show people are making out. A clean sheet and a point away from home, to move us up to FOURTH, yes fourth in the table and people are moaning. There’s some fickle fans about.
Yes, we weren’t convincing going forward, but I’d rather play poorly and draw 0-0 then last year when we played poorly and got beat 5-1 against Bolton, wouldn’t you? We’re unbeaten so far this season, in 5 games – 4 league, 1 cup – so let’s hear some positivity.
We’ve had a better start to the season than most expected and even though we haven’t got the striker we needed we still have options. Demba Ba and Leon Best are capable of getting goals, Ameobi will chip in and we have midfielders like Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux and Yohan Cabaye to score too, so I’m not worried about that.
I’ve heard a few fans mention relegation, seriously? Aren’t there three teams down there worse than us? Swansea, Norwich, Wigan, Sunderland, Bolton, Blackburn and even the likes of Fulham, QPR and Everton aren’t brilliant, so I don’t think we have anything to worry about.
Something which was good to see was the reception that ex-Newcastle midfielder Joey Barton was given. The fans clapped him off and chanted “one Joey Barton” and he clapped the fans back at the start and end of the game. Barton also had a little cuddle with the lads and some of the training staff before leaving the field.
So, with Aston Villa coming up this weekend the lads need to get to work on the training ground and start banging them goals in.
– Note to Pardew – Get Santon ready for the weekend, if I have to watch Ryan Taylor defend against the pace of Agbonlahor and N’Zogbia I will be deeply upset.
Another point though, and a good unbeaten start to the season. Howay the lads!
QPR: Paddy Kenny, Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand, Danny Gabbidon, Armand Traore, Shaun Derry, Joey Barton, Alejandro Faurlin, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adel Taarabt, Jay Bothroyd
Subs: Murphy, Fitz Hall, DJ Campbell, Akos Buzsaky, Matt Connolly, Tommy Smith, Jason Puncheon
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best, Shola Ameobi
Subs: Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, Danny Guthrie, Sylvain Marveaux, Peter Lovenkrands, Sammy Ameobi, Demba Ba