Category Archives: Newcastle United

FA Cup Replays – Who can cause an upset?

An enthralling game is in store for those in North London tonight where Tottenham host Championship competition of Middlesbrough. The inform tier two side may be concentrating on reaching a vital 40 points in the league, but there is no doubt the northern side will put on a valiant effort to progress into the next round. With this weeks news of Harry Kane’s absence till April, Mourinho has interesting squad decisions to make, and the strength of tonight’s team will surely have in mind their distance from a European spot for next season. The FA Cup may the silverware they strive for in Mourinho’s inaugural season as Tottenham manager.

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Kane out until April: Jose admits that without him, they cannot play the ‘Tottenham way’.

Another Premier League team with potential to fall with an upset are Newcastle United, who take on League one Rochdale at St James’s Park. The original fixture saw Rochdale bite back in the latter stages of the game with a goal made by two players aged two decades apart. Youngster Luke Matheson, who made his name when he equalised against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup earlier last year, grabbed the assist which booked Dale’s replay on Tyneside. An already classic FA Cup story, it seems written for Rochdale to go all the way, but will Premier League quality become too much and halt their FA Cup story?

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40 year-old Aaron Wilbraham scored the equaliser at The Spotland Stadium

Nigel Pearson has seemed to flip Watford’s Premier League fate on it’s head as after this weekend they sit above the relegation places for the first time season. However, his team were not as focussed as they conceded three second half goals to draw with Tranmere Rovers on the 4th January. A heroic display from the struggling League One display confirmed a replay which neither side would have desired at kick off, but one that could bring joy to the one set of fans, who have perhaps endured a poor season so far.

With current form, it would be suggested Watford would progress to the next round, but Pearson may rest his usual players for a tricky London derby against Tottenham on Saturday, as they continue to try secure Premier League status for next season. On the other hand, the Merseyside club will be hopeful for more FA Cup magic in the replay and may see a strong team out to finish a job they so excellently accounted for in the original fixture. Similarly to Watford in managerial terms, it will be argued the priority should be on Tranmere too escaping their relegation zone position.

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Watford must be delighted with Pearson’s impact so far, but what will his attentions be for The FA Cup

Is 3 5 2 The New 4 4 2?

This post looks at the emergnce if that is the right word of the 3 5 2 Formation.

Is it the new  4 4 2, which in recent years has become our default, almost formation in the English league?

The 3 5 2 Formation is not exactly new, and has been employed by a number of foreign coaches over the years, with great success.

How it works, is like this and it is accepted that there are variations of the formation, according to the coach or manager employing the tactic.

With that in mind, lets look at some of the teams who use this formation:

Accrington Stanley

AFC Wimbledon

Wolves

Newcastle United

Sheffield United

Czech Republic

MK Dons

The formation relies on the use of very speedy, and effective wingbacks.

Those Wingbacks can either be, Wingers, or they can fullbacks pushed up operating as wingers. Ashley Young is a great example of a winger turned full back over time.

If you are using fullbacks pushed up as wingers, then effectively you are leaving wingers redundant, which is in the case of AFC Wimbledon, who use 3 Central Defenders, primarily because Wally Downes who implemented the system is a defensive coach, so you could almost say he was using a 5 3 2 version, though that is digressing from the point.

The general idea is to play two full backs and one central defender, so that you keep the players positionally as close to their favoured posistion as possible, without too much disruption to the team flow.

The 3 5 2 offers a lot of flexibility to the changing needs as the game unfolds, compared to other formations, such as the 4 2 3 1, or the 4 3 3.

Wolves and Sheffield United are two great examples of this, because both clubs, have progressed through the English Football League Championship and now are in the premiership playing this formation.

It is a system that is very difficult to play against, because when it works well, the team employing it, very often outnumber the defensive team and always have the flanks overloaded through the use of the over lapping ‘outer’ defenders.

This is the reason, that Arsenal, struggled last night against Sheffield United, England came unstuck in their recent match against the Czech Republic, Wolves were able to go to the Etihad and beat Man City 2-0, while Accrington Stanley beat Ipswich on Sunday 2-0 in League 1.

In fact Sheffield United are probably the best example of how this system works effectively, because together with Wolves they have used the system the longest, Sheffield United started using it in League 1, when Chris Wilder took over.

The defending team, have absolutly no idea, where the attacks are going to come from, especially as in the case of Wolves, who employ an attacking midfielder in their version of the system, while Sheffield United, newly promoted, don’t.

It will also be interesting to see, if Newcastle United, continue to use it, because they have just reverted back to it, to cater to the teams strengths and in doing so, their results have improved.

The one downside to the system, is that though you have numbers in attack, should you get caught on the counter attack, if you lost possession, then you are liable to potentialy concede goals, through lack of cover.

Either way the teams listed in this article who use the system, will be worth following and their progress noted this season.

Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle United: Subtle Reds create Premier League history

Liverpool cruised to a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Newcastle United to retain the top spot in the Premier League standings.

Anfield witnessed yet another sublime display as Liverpool outplayed the Magpies on quality and matched a Premier League record. Their triumph against Steve Bruce’s side means it’s Reds’ 14th consecutive win in Premier League, just 4 short of Pep Guardiola’s consecutive win record. Liverpool are the first team in top-flight history to win 14 straight matches, by scoring more than once in each win.

However, Liverpool did have an unusually slow start and the visitors made the most out of it as Jetro Willems scored with a sublime right-footed strike. Nevertheless, the hosts responded in stunning fashion, as in-form Sadio Mane dispatched a crucial equalizer on the 27th-minute mark. Minutes before the second half, Jurgen Klopp was forced to make a substitution which saw Roberto Firmino coming off the bench to replace injured Divock Origi.

The Brazillian had a lightning-quick impact on the game, and submitted a delicious pass for The Reds’ second goal. The European champions were ahead in a flash.

After the second one, they looked relatively more comfortable, predominately Roberto Firmino was under a constant spotlight, displaying a unique extravaganza of subtle twist and turns and exquisite passes. Salah’s first and Liverpool’s third came due to Brazillian’s wonderful backheel. It was just wonderful to watch.

Moreover, Reds’ midfield also did a good job, and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return was one of the positive signs.

Liverpool sit at the top of the pile with a five point lead on Manchester City. They are looking very sharp and looking hungry from the very start to land their first Premier League title

Player Ratings:

Liverpool:

Adrian – 6, Van Dijk – 8, Matip – 7, Alexander Arnold -7, Robertson – 7, Fabinho 8, Oxlade Chamberlain 8, Wijnaldum -7, Mane -8, Salah – 7, Origi -6

Subs:

Firmino- 9, Milner – 6, Shaqiri -6

Newcastle United:

Martin Dubravka- 5, Krafth -6, Schar -6, Lascelles -6, Dumeett -6, Willems -7, Almiron-6, Hayden-6, Shelvey -6, Atsu-5, Joelinton -6.

Subs:

Muto- 6, Fernandez-6, Manquillo-6.

 

 

Dean Saunders Jailed!…

Dean Saunders, the ex Liverpool FC Striker, has been jailed today for 10 weeks for failing to be breathalysed, after being pulled over on suspicion of Drink Driving.

Saunders worked as a coach at Newcastle United, under Graeme Souness and has also managed Wrexham and Wolves as well as being capped 75 times for Wales.

Saunders was stopped by Police on suspicion of drink driving in Boughton, Chester on May 10th this year, but pleaded guilty by letter, on Tuesday, but appeared in Court Today (28th August).

Initially denying both charges at an earlier hearing, he was also banned from driving for 30 months. Saunders is currently working for BT Sport, so could it affect his job too?

The jailing, is a sad hiccup in what has been a good and solid career, as a player, and a steady, if unspectacular managerial career.

What Now for Newcastle?

At the end of last season I saw an opportunity for Newcastle to grow under Rafael Benitez and new owners following a promising end to the season. However Mike Ashley once again has showed he is not an ambitious football man; he has failed to negotiate the sale of the club, let go an excellent manager, let their best players leave and appointed a manager in Steve Bruce who is best described as a top level championship manager. What does all the mean for Newcastle? I predict a difficult season battling for survival rather than the possibility of a top half finish under Benitez.

Under Benitez Newcastle were showing progress being resolute at the back; Liverpool needed a very late goal to beat them. They broke there transfer record to sign Miguel Almiron which at the time showed Ashley was backing Benitez but this papered over the cracks a little bit and despite giving Ashley a little bit of power back., Almiron was only signed on deadline day despite Benitez having the deal in place, ready to go, at the start of the month. Benitez wanted further backing in order to extend his contract

Benitez wanted more money to spend in the transfer window. He also wanted assurances that money would go into the academy and the infrastructure of the club. The contract on offer didn’t fulfil those requirements and it was also only for one year. He wanted more, he wanted to improve, and he wanted the club to get better. Whereas it seems Ashley is quite happy to just stay in the Premier League – rather than challenge for trophies and get into Europe.

Newcastle had goal scorers in Rondon and Perez last season, Benitez wanted to sign Rondon permanently last summer, but was only allowed to sign him on loan because Ashley only wants players of a certain age. Ashley wants players with sell-on value. Someone like Rondon, at 30 years old, didn’t fit with that. Now Benitez has taken Rondon with him to Chinese club Dalian Yifang

And Perez has left signing for Leicester, they did get £30 million for Perez which Ashley will see as good business however it remains to be seen whether it is good football business.

Benitez was promised £50m per transfer window, which isn’t that bad, but it’s not a huge amount. The wage structure was another issue. Newcastle’s highest earner is on £75,000-per-week, but Rafa wanted to be able to sign players on upwards of £100,00-per-week. He couldn’t do that, so it limited the pool of players he could sign.

Bruce has massive shoes to fill the supporters took to Benitez so lovingly that it’s now a no-win situation win for him he is however a Tyneside native who is “delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle United. This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family” said Bruce.

This doesn’t hide the fact he managed bitter rivals Sunderland and hasn’t managed with great success in the Premier League.