It was interesting to see the green painted over pitch markings at Stoke.
Apparently now that they are playing with the “Big Boys” in the Europa league Stoke have to play on a “Big Boys” pitch and can no longer use the smaller under 12s pitch they have become so used to in the Premiership.
They certainly won’t get the same mileage out of Rory Delap who won’t be able to just drop the ball on the penalty spot from a real half way line. I hear Stevie Taylor walked across to Pardew after 10 minutes and said “I need to come off, I think I’m still concussed. I’m seeing lines all over the place.”
Isn’t it rather strange that in a game that is so strictly regulated the pitch size can vary by so much? Not only that, but also the fact that Stoke’s pitch is acceptable to our authorities, but not the Europeans?
All sounds very “straight bananas” and “kilos” to me.
A bit like going round to Phil “The Power” Taylor’s house and finding he’s put all the numbers in different places on his dartboard, or playing tennis at Andy Murray’s and finding the net’s 6 inches higher.
Tim Krul -6
A couple of fumbles and some dodgy punches put a dampener on his game. OK he can hardly be blamed for letting in the penalty but it was a very uncertain performance from our new Super-Custodian. Having said that I think most keepers would have struggled with Peter Crouch in front of them and Jon Walters sharing their underpants.
Danny Simpson – 7
Absent in the first half but turned up after about 50 minutes. A major improvement over last week. He disappears off up the other end now and again but I suspect that‘s not him – more likely one of those “tactic” things that we keep hear about.
Steven Taylor -7
Not a big performance from the Phantom but nothing noteworthy of the negative variety either.
Having had a few kicks in the head in the past I would think that Taylor considers the protection of the mask more a new found freedom than an inhibitor.
Fabricio Coloccini – 8
I think Colo played a corker – not enough for Man Of The Match, but certainly not far off. I have criticized Steven Taylor in the past for his heroics – throwing himself around the park, diving here and there like an extra on the beach in Saving Private Ryan. I think it is symptomatic of someone who is always a yard away from where he should be. You don’t see that with Colo. He’s involved in the action a lot more with probably three times the touches of Taylor, but less than half the dramatics. Excellent positional sense and reads the game well. He’s where he’s supposed to be.
Wouldn’t put money on him in a sprint though. I can type faster than he can run. That’s why it takes me two days to produce one of these reports.
Ryan Taylor -7
Good first half, quieter second half. Worked well supported by Jonas, and has to be feeling a little smug having served up a few canny long chucks that would have had Delap drooling.
Jonas Guttierez – 9
Played a different game to his normal style and came out a hero. Jonas wasn’t all arms and legs, mazy dribbles and falling over this week. Instead he was covering, tackling, closing down. And falling over.
With a work rate akin to that of Norman Wisdom, Jonas didn’t stop for the entire ninety odd minutes, tracking back and forward up and down the left wing, but also helping out in the box trying to keep Krul’s underpants relatively free of the red and white curse for corners and throws.
Danny Guthrie – 6
Not a great performance but he certainly didn’t disgrace himself. It can’t be easy running round the pitch trying to fill the boots of the great Cheik Tiote, but he fared well. A couple of minor slips, but fortunately nothing Bramblesque,
Gabriel Obertan – 7
Another improved performance this week as Obertan relied more on his speed than his skills.
The cross for the first goal was sublime if a little behind the Ba and there were other glimpses of promise. Built for speed, Gabby needs to take a flying run and not try to jinx his way through the pack. He’s a bit like my old Capri, once he gets going there’s not stopping him. With the Capri it was a leak in the master cylinder.
Yohan Cabaye – 7
A little off form – but put in the effort. I was surprised to see him come off but maybe he was struggling with a debilitating illness. Maybe, flu, or a stomach bug, or being French?
Leon Best – 8
Butch and Sundance, Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Thelma and Louise, Demba and Leon.
I am a lot happier with Best since he appears to have stopped trying to score goals and has just instead become Ba’s sidekick. OK on Monday night he was actually trying to score when he passed to Ba for his second, but Best is contributing a whole lot more and in a more productive way playing second fiddle. Surprisingly he holds the ball up well and plays some intelligent balls. Why surprisingly? I didn’t think he had it in him.
Demba Ba – 8
OK – quick quiz. Could this be any easier?
He got his first Toon hat-trick just a couple of months after his debut and his second a month later. Who could it possibly be?
Yes – it COULD be Demba Ba but I was actually thinking Andy Cole, signed by Keegan in February ‘93, knocking in three against Barnsley in April then three more against Leicester in the May. And we all know what he went on to do.
The great Andy Cole, goal-scorer extraordinaire and columnist-extra ordinary (in this case meaning VERY ordinary) scored an awful lot of goals from inside ten yards on his way to becoming a Toon Legend.
I did mention a couple of weeks ago that I thought that once Ba got into the habit of scoring goals he would just keep on scoring. This was not quite what I had in mind but lets hope he continues.
As with a number of others he put in a good shift. Yes – I’m a miserable tw@t for not giving him a 9 but first of all, you knew that already, and secondly, the effort expended by Jonas was considerably more that put in by Ba. Scoring goals doesn’t impress me as much as commitment. He scored two from six yards out and a penalty. If even one of them had involved the need to check where the posts were I might have given him more.
Sammy Ameobi – 7
Liked the little that I saw – he was energetic and forceful, think he has potential but deserves a bit longer on the pitch now and again. Of course, some would suggest that he wouldn’t have got the five minutes if we weren’t 3-1 up.
Just goes to show that remaining upright for extended periods has been mastered by at least one of the Ameobi family.
James Perch – 6
Is it possible that Pardew thought Whelan was becoming a little too involved and sent Perch on to nobble him?
Within 10 seconds of coming on Perch was in on Whelan with both feet off the ground, getting away with just a yellow card, and Whelan spent the rest of the game looking over his shoulder, not a good thing for a midfielder.
“What If I get sent off and banned Boss?”
“Well it’s not like we’ll miss you”
Perch hardly had another touch all game. The ball I mean.
Alan Pardew – 8
I try not to comment on the Manager’s tactics too much because I think a lot of the time we decide what we think they may have been based on what everyone does. A bit of a cart before the cause and effect horse one might say. Pretty obvious I know, but a trap we all seem to fall into.
When we play crap do we really think that Alan Pardew got them together before the match and said “right , I want you to back off, give them room and give them lots of free kicks around the box. Cheik, if you can just wander round kicking people you could be home by five. Stevie, a handball in the box is always good for ratings and Demba, what’s with all this shooting? Take it easy, pass it to their defence now and again”
Having said that – Jonas seemed to shelve any plans he may have had to attack with most ventures starting via Cabaye and Obertan, a good move that paid dividends, unlike my investments at the moment. Cheers Greece!
I wouldn’t say he played as a second left-back as has been suggested elsewhere, but he was back when needed.
The most notable “alleged” “tactics” from my view were the use of Best as the target man, holding the ball up very well and then the speed with which all players closed down the whole Stoke midfield. All seven of them.
Nice to see we had a few cracks from distance. I’d rather see Ryan Taylor hitting the corner flag from 20 yards out than nobody even trying.
Three points against Everton on Saturday and the police round the Bigg Market will be encouraging the lads to have a beer or two.
Well, most of the lads.
Just out of interest – those of you who have already commented about my point that Ba’s goals were all easy should have read all the way to the bottom first.
I just put that bit in to wind you up!