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Newcastle vs Liverpool

Rory Fitzgerald

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A team of 2 halves


The Newcastle United team this season have a very clear strength and a very clear weakness that simply breaks down as their 'attack & defence'. The dichotomy within the team is almost perfectly reflected in the current standings with a record of 3 wins, 3 loses and the other being a draw. Appropriately for this team, its black & white with little apparent grey area. The enigmatic performances don't even stretch from just game-to-game but even half to half.


Pardew after Everton defeat: "The 1st half, I'm afraid, wasn't good enough. The inconsistencies I spoke about before the game have come back to haunt us again. We defended so much better in the 2nd half. We didn't gift them any goals. They had to earn their chances and we caused them all sorts of problems".


Pardew after Cardiff victory: "1st half - wow - was some performance it really was, one of the best halves I have seen as Newcastle manager. But this team does really need a health warning because 2nd half we didn't keep it as well or create as much as we would've liked ....... and had to have a grandstand finish unfortunately".


Set up


Newcastle's shape is very much a 4-2-3-1 type set up. The defensive midfield duo is generally Sissoko partnered, mostly by Suarez's old Ajax team-mate Vurnon Anita, or less frequently, Cheik Tiote. Yohan Cabaye has been the player given licence to get forward and support Papiss Cisse and feed the likes Loic Remy and Hatem Ben Arfa. However, at times Sissoko will also use his energy to break forward . These are likely to be sporadic bursts from midfield rather than stationing himself in an advanced area, Cabaye is the player likely to position himself at the apex of the midfield.




On the set up above after the Villa game, Pardew commented that "We played very, very well today and I thought some of our play was what it should be at Newcastle. We have a real attacking mode at the club and that's the type of offensive side I want to put out , but I have been unable to do so really since Demba Ba left". Against Liverpool, it will be the 1st home game since being humbled at Goodison Park - should Pardew seek to appease the fans and field his favoured attacking line-up, the above is what can we expect.


Mode of attack


The attacking strength within this team is very definitely carried by the wide players - Remy on the left & Ben Arfa on the right . However, 'wide' is something of a misnomer. Whilst they will be stationed wide, once they receive possession their initial instinct is to look to carry the ball infield and attack towards goal. Pardew has stationed Remy on the left to allow him to cut in on his right foot whilst Ben Arfa is predominantly left-footed and dribbles infield from the right to get a shot off.


Below is Remy's goal against Cardiff. Initially Cardiff are attacking (1st screenshot) but the pass into the striker is intercepted. The interception falls to Sissoko who immediately looks for Remy (2nd screenshot). I will touch on Remy's positioning further on but for the sake of the attacking side of Newcastle's game, this approach has allowed Newcastle to counter swiftly with Remy getting down the line in the final screenshot and cutting inside to get a shot off which managed to beat David Marshall to give Newcastle the lead. Also of note is there was alot of running in this move from Sissoko.




On the other side of the pitch, Ben Arfa demonstrates the same tendancies though he is a bit more willing to go on the outside for the cross. However, if there is any space inside, he will look to exploit it. By coming inside, he is likely to be supported by Cabaye in the attacking midfield role and have a willing runner from the left in Remy who will look to get into the box when the play is not coming down his flank. As an example, here are 2 seperate attempts by Ben Arfa vs Villa that almost look identical. In the 2nd screenshot, Guzan could only parry the shot out to Gouffran who scored the winner from the rebound. This bears some similarities to Giaccherini's goal at the Stadium of Light i.e. a long shot parried out and capitalised on by the opposition.




Below are the heat maps of both Remy & Ben Arfa from the recent home game against Hull City. Apart from being almost identical, they would seem to show 2 players that receive the ball in wide areas inside the oppositions half but try to move infield the further forward the play is. Also, there is a limited presence in the wing positions near the goal line for providing crosses.




Threats from distance


Linked to the above analysis, Newcastle have taken the 3rd most shots on goal in the league this season and those 2 wide players average the most shots per game for Newcastle. Also something to be considered is that Newcastle have taken the most shots from outside the box this season. As such, should the likes of Remy, Cabaye and Ben Arfa find the kind of space that Sunderland got outside the box only 3 weeks ago when Liverpool played away in the north-east then we could be facing quite a few shots again, though from better strikers of a football.


The threat from Remy is depicted below in the 1st graphic. No other club has got off more shots from the left side of the pitch. Additionally, with Cisse off form and Cabaye only starting half the games so far, Newcastle's attempts from the middle of the pitch are 3rd lowest (2nd graphic). The threat from Newcastle is from players cutting in and getting shots off with the final graphic showing where Newcastle have got their goals from.





As there are only 5 graphics permitted on the board, the rest of the preview is here;


The Inside Right

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In which case I reckon the bench beckons for Henderson.


My thoughts on that are - if we start Johnson & Lucas together, its not inconceivable that either could run out of steam by the 70th min mark (GJ because he is just back and Lucas because thats what happens him). In that case, Henderson can only replace one of them.


If Henderson started in midfield, then Johnson could go off if he is knackered on 70-75 and Henderson goes to RWB and then Lucas can come on and plough his energy into the last 20mins.

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I was there in 2007 - interestingly enough, the Saturday after England went out against Croatia * and the daft locals booed Gerrard every time he touched the ball - until he lashed one in from a free kick. Wonder what response he'll get on Saturday?


To tie back to GD's post - as we celebrated Stevie's goal, the lad behind me toppled over the seats and landed about 3 rows down, unconscious and blood running down his head, and my attempts to attract the stewards - jumping up and down and waving - were lost in the general exuberance.


By the time I got them to come up, he was sitting up and saying it was nothing (despite the blood and a big coggy on his head), and his mates were simply not in the slightest bit bothered about him, so he just went back to his seat. So the point is - it's scary and dangerous up there.



* also the day Rafa was in his tracksuit - not a pointed gesture, he just forgot his shoes, he has since revealed

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0 - 2 win


Moses & Sturridge


That would be my guess at the team.


Be great when Johnson and Coutinho is back, plus Cissokho may do very well at LWB too and having Allen to come on and help us keep the ball in the second half would be another big plus.

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