Newcastle United entertained Swansea City on Saturday afternoon with it being the first encounter between the two sides in the Premier League.
Alan Pardew made significant changes to the side that had played in side’s defeat to Norwich last week. Fabricio Coloccini returned to the side and partnered James Perch in the centre of defence while Ivory Coast dynamo, Cheik Tiote returned to the side after a long absence and his presence added an extra dimension to the midfield.
Newcastle United paid tribute to the late Gary Speed with the Welsh hymn ‘Bread of Heaven’ followed by a minute’s applause to remember the former number 11. His father and wife were in attendance at the ground and it was fitting for the club to pay their respects to the Welshman at the club he spent six years representing.
In the 22nd minute, a nicely worked ball found Leon Best who chested the ball to Demba Ba only for his shot to be denied by the frame of the goal. Gabriel Obertan then worked the ball to Demba Ba who found his resulting shot blocked by the Swansea defence.
Davide Santon kept his place in the side after his full debut against the Canaries last week. Santon again looked very comfortable and ventured forward a number of times. Particularly in the 37th minute when the ball was crossed to the Italian U21 international who made his way to the outside of the box. Sending a low cross in that evaded both Demba Ba and Leon Best.
In the 41st minute, Obertan’s cross from the right flank floated to Gutierrez who headed to Demba Ba. Ba used his body strength to keep the central defence away from him and turned on the volley. His powerful shot was saved by Swansea’s goalkeeper Vorm.
Newcastle were knocking on the door throughout the final five minutes of the half and another opportunity came for the Magpies when Jonas Gutierrez drifted from the left-hand side firing a right-footed shot that went agonisingly wide.
The home side in played some nice stuff in the first half. The defence were a lot more settled with Captain Colo at the heart while James Perch acquitted himself very well and looked comfortable when he had possession of the ball. Alan Pardew had set up his side to play fast flowing passing football. There was some exquisite passes played between the team and the link play between all those in the team. Leon Best linked very well with Demba Ba holding the ball up numerous times in order to play in his strike partner. Swansea had showed strong resilience throughout the first half but Newcastle ended the half in the ascendancy.
Newcastle came out of the blocks in the second half when the Danny Simpson’s cross found Demba Ba at the far post only for his left footed strike go wide. Pardew had briefed his team to close down each player and this was evident in the team’s play. Swansea found themselves in Newcastle’s box and Newcastle dealt with their threat well. The ball was headed out by Coloccini and then he continued to show his leadership skills by advancing further up the pitch and urge Newcastle forward.
Gabriel Obertan has divided many throughout his time at Newcastle but he found himself being the main source for the Magpies attacks. He did play in a few good crosses for the team to attack and was excellent in his defensive abilities to help out Danny Simpson.
Tim Krul had a fairly quiet match up until he was called upon to deal with a Swansea corner. He confidently came off his line to take charge of the situation and claim the ball.
Davide Santon and Jonas Gutierrez were linking very well with each other and although they have hardly played a game with each other they seemed to work well down the left-hand side. Santon also had the confidence to take a number of players in the 66th minute playing a sublime right-footed cross for Demba Ba to head goalwards. It was a superb effort but the Dutch goalkeeper Vorm read the situation well to pull off the save.
Newcastle’s first substitution of the match came on 70 minutes when Leon Best was replaced by Shola Ameobi. Leon Best had worked tremendously throughout his time on the pitch and you could tell that he had given a lot for the Newcastle side.
Santon continued his impressive play when threading a ball through to Shola Ameobi who shot goalwards only for his effort to be stopped by Michel Vorm.
Swansea’s best chance came when Scott Sinclair was fed the ball only for him to drag his shot wide. They seemed to be mustering more chances in this particular period and Newcastle had allowed the Welsh team to gain some momentum in the match.
Alan Pardew made his final two changes of the match, bringing on Haris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi for Obertan and Tiote respectively. Pardew was clearly going for all out attack for the remaining minutes of the match.
The final five minutes of the game were very frantic for Newcastle. The team were creating opportunities but Swansea’s determination seemed to stop the Magpies from gaining the lead. There were to be four added minutes and the Newcastle crowd were cheering their team on to win the game. Whatever Newcastle seemed to try Swansea’s orange shirts were always in the way.
One final attack was made by Santon’s long throw and Demba Ba headed the ball down and struck it on the half-volley. It was a half-chance but that was to be the end of the game and the match ended goalless.
Today’s result was disappointing for the Magpies to say the least. They created a number of opportunities that we failed to capitalise on and whatever the team threw at the Welsh team they seemed to block it in some shape or form. No doubt Pardew will be pleased that the team didn’t concede any goals after the four that were shipped last week. However this was a game where the team should have taken their chances but a draw after a run of hard games is perhaps what the Magpies need after the tough fixtures they have faced.
There were both positives and negatives from the game. Both Santon and Perch put in impressive displays to solidify their position in the team. James Perch in particular looked very comfortable alongside Coloccini and the whole defence seemed to be working very well together. Santon looks like a very valuable asset for the sides attack and was linking very well with those around him. Demba Ba again showed his class today with his touch and skill and he has certainly been a revelation for us so far this season.
For the duration of the whole match Yohan Cabaye’s set-pieces and corners were ones that were not up to the standard we have seen this season. This is an area that Pardew will work on for our upcoming fixture; however it was really nice to see the team playing flowing football again and that is a style that Pardew will continue to employ.
It was a disappointing result for Pardew’s side after being on the front foot for most of the game and it certainly should’ve been a match were the Magpies took full advantage in front of a home crowd. Pardew has a side that now looks very strong in many areas and he will be pleased with the chances that his team made.
It was just unfortunate that one of them didn’t find the back of the net!
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best, Demba Ba.
Subs: Steve Harper, Mike Williamson, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi
Swansea: Vorm, Richards, Williams, Caulker, Taylor, Routledge, Gower, Britton, Sinclair, Allen, Graham
Subs: Tremmel, Monk, Dyer, Augustien, Lita, Dobbie, Moore