Alan Pardew’s charges were beaten 2-1 by fierce rivals Sunderland at the Stadium of Light, in a disappointing result for the Tyneside visitors.
Newcastle’s inconsistent start to the new campaign continued on Sunday, with Alan Pardew’s men beaten 2-1 by local rivals Sunderland.
The visitors will be frustrated at getting nothing from the game after equalising in the second half.
Here are five things that were evident from Newcastle’s performance.
Defending from set pieces and crosses still suspect
Newcastle were lucky to avoid conceding from free-kicks and corners against Liverpool last week, and Pardew will have drilled his side to be more organised and dominant when balls came into their box against Sunderland.
However, this advice was not heeded and the visitors got off to the worst possible start with Fletcher’s early goal from a short corner.
4-4-2 a better option
Pardew set his side up to play the bespoke 4-3-3 formation that worked well at times against Liverpool, but quickly realised that matching Sunderland’s 4-4-2 set-up was needed.
This made the most of the players in the visiting side, with strength in the centre of the park. Newcastle certainly looked more dangerous after the change in formation.
Coloccini’s absence being felt
Newcastle are really lacking a leader at the back at the moment, with the Argentina international’s importance becoming apparent in the defeat.
Mike Williamson and Paul Dummett put in as much effort as they could, but the pair’s positioning was questionable throughout the clash. The experience and commanding presence of Coloccini will be a major boost once he returns.
Cisse badly low on confidence
Pardew brought Papiss Cisse on at half-time in search of a goal, but the Senegal striker looked markedly off the pace.
The striker was adjudged as one of the most lethal forwards in the league after his arrival at St James’ Park, with goals galore in his first six months on Tyneside.
However, with the African noticeably low on confidence and now no longer guaranteed a starting berth in the side, he looks nothing like the player that bagged two memorable screamers against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in his debut campaign.
Sissoko unlucky to be removed
Moussa Sissoko was removed at half-time to allow an extra striker to be deployed, and with Cheick Tiote and Yohan Cabaye’s importance to the side, was always going to be the man to be sacrificed.
The France international was also withdrawn last week against Liverpool after Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s red card, and the midfielder has been unlucky not to get more game time of late.
He has shown glimpses of what he is capable of, and given more of a consistent run in the team Sissoko could be a real driving force in the side.
image: © Brian Minkoff - London Pixels