Five things we learned about Newcastle this weekend

Newcastle United

The St James’ Park side drew 2-2 against Liverpool on Saturday, despite being reduced to ten men in the first-half.

Newcastle played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Saturday, and showed heart and determination to get a result after being reduced to ten men in the first half.

The home crowd will be buoyed on by the effort put in by their side, and a number of things became apparent in the draw.

Set pieces – good and bad

Newcastle’s performance at defensive and attacking set pieces varied drastically; they marked Liverpool attackers poorly when defending corners and free-kicks, but themselves looked dangerous when putting the ball into the box.

In the first-half particularly, before the sending off and with the hosts 1-0 to the good, poor marking and positional play at corners threatened to see their lead relinquished.

However, on a number occasions, including their equalising goal, moves from the training ground created chances for the North East side.

Tiote and Cabaye working in tandem

Both Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye have had their issues away from the game over the last couple of months, but the central midfield pair played well together here.

Cabaye’s range of passing was evident once more, with a number of perfectly weighted through-balls on show. Tiote’s crisp tackling and refusal to take a backward step was a key component in Newcastle getting something from the game.

These two need to get a run of games together in the heart of the Geordies’ team for Newcastle to climb the table.

Remy and Ben Arfa used in wrong positions

Alan Pardew started Hatem Ben Arfa as the furthest man forward in a false nine role of sorts, but the France international looked ineffective in this position. Although the false nine ideal is a craze in the modern game, Newcastle cried out for a traditional number nine to lead their line.

Meanwhile, Loic Remy, in excellent goalscoring form, was used in a wide left role and although he showed glimpses of what he is capable of on the ball, would have been a better option through the middle.

On a number of occasions Remy beat a man wide and crossed, but Ben Arfa was nowhere to be seen to convert the centre. Surely, the pair would have been better swapping positions?

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and the changing of the game

The former Montpellier man’s red card, which there could be no question about, changed the game and left Newcastle with an uphill struggle on their hands. However, Yanga-Mbiwa did not look comfortable in the early exchanges, and after a tough game against Everton recently looks low on confidence.

The Newcastle defence really missed Fabricio Coloccini, and lacked an out-and-out leader without the Argentine skipper in place. With Steven Taylor making a recovery in the near future also, Newcastle will be more watertight with returning stars at centre-back.

Paul Dummett, the home-grown hero

The 22-year-old Geordie lad may well have netted Newcastle’s all-important second goal, but his performance after coming on was more noteworthy.

Normally a left-back, Dummett performed admirably at centre-half and showed the type of grit, determination and will to win that Newcastle fans want from their team. His strong showing will be a boost for Alan Pardew’s men and the Newcastle boss can trust Dummett to play in the future.

image: © machernucha

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