Before we look forward to Chelsea on Saturday, let's take one final look back at this week's 1-1 draw with Manchester United. Follow the jump to find a rating for each Newcastle player involved (and a bonus rating or two as well). Then, let me know what your ratings are in the comments.
Tim Krul - 8
Krul was an almost unanimous selection for Man of the Match, with good reason. He made several key saves and took command of the box. Only his distribution was worthy of critique this week.
Danny Simpson - 8
Simpson's signature play is undoubtedly the goal line block. He also made 6 successful clearances, all inside the box. He did everything that was asked of him. Too bad he and Obertan couldn't connect more.
Steven Taylor - 8
Saylor blocked 5 shots for the second week in a row, though one of those was a block-failed clearance that led to Javier Hernandez scoring off his stomach (or, as the Guardian chalkboard puts it, his "other body part"). We've written at length about Taylor's defensive presence allowing Coloccini to roam more freely, but think about the risky angles Tim Krul is able to get away with as well.
Coloccini was once again all over the place and was even able to rip off a hard shot straight at David De Gea. His Achilles' Heel has always been the ball over the top, and whenever Alan Pardew employs a high line like he did this week, opponents are going to try to exploit that. Javier Hernandez was able to get behind the defense a number of times, but Colo was quick to recover on most occasions. He's got to do better on clearances as well (1 for 7).
Ryan Taylor - 6
Raylor showed a tendency to drift away from his man this week, which caused a ripple effect across the defense every time it happened. He did make several key tackles in the defensive half and had a free kick opportunity, but once again Jonas found himself playing more withdrawn to cover for Taylor's deficiencies. Even his play in the last 10 minutes was uneven. One minute he's making a great block and clearing out of danger, and the next he's lost track of Federico Macheda, who really should have done a better job putting his head to the ball in the 88th minute - and again in the 1st minute of stoppage time. Here's a crazy idea for this week: Since Jonas is out (suspension), send Taylor up to left wing, where he doesn't have to worry as much about defending and can still stand over the ball on a set piece. Insert Davide Santon at left back and see if he can't do better.
Gabriel Obertan - 7 (OFF 64')
Manchester United fans must have felt justified, knowing that Obertan continues to dazzle on the edge but can't put together a final product when it comes to crossing into the box (0 for 6 this time out). I thought he had his fitness problems licked, but again he was ineffective in the second half. I give him a begrudging 7 because when he was on, he was the main offensive threat. I'd really like him to go a full 90 without running out of gas, though.
Yohan Cabaye - 8
Cabaye's was an underrated performance. He played a more offensive role than he did last time, linking up with Ben Arfa several times and generally being one of the only offensive players interested in holding possession for any length of time. He also made plenty of tackles (5 of 6) and had a knack for being in the right place at the right time defensively. If Guthrie plays again this week, they'll need to form some better chemistry...
Danny Guthrie - 7
...as they linked up a total of 6 times this time out. The switch (Cabaye played on the right of Guthrie against Man United, they were flipped against Manchester City) was mostly positive, as Guthrie enjoyed a moderate amount of success using Jonas Gutierrez as an outlet. Guthrie seemed to take his defensive responsibility to heart, as he rarely ventured closer than 35 yards to goal. This was a welcome development, but I can't help but feel that both Guthrie and Cabaye are suffering from both being on the pitch at once, as both are being forced to play away from their strengths to some extent.
Jonas Gutierrez - 3 (OFF 79' - DOUBLE YELLOW CARD)
Jonas was having a bad game by his standards even before his second yellow card. Sad stat of the week: Jonas' 2 for 4 on crosses was matched only by Danny Simpson (1 for 2). Aside from completing 2 crosses, only 1 of which went into the box, there's not much positive to report. By the way, a rewatch confirmed for me that the booking was very deserved. If the first yellow was a little harsh, the second was a tad lenient. Jonas got frustrated and lashed out at his man. Not okay.
Hatem Ben Arfa - 6 (OFF 80')
Ben Arfa was very limited this week. Part of that was the tactic, but on some level he only has himself to blame. One byproduct of having a creative player that can weave through defenses is that sometimes every take-on he tries fails. He also committed 3 fouls and earned a yellow for running across the pitch to yell at the ref.
Demba Ba - 6
As predicted, Nemanja Vidic put Demba Ba in his pocket and didn't let him out until the match was over. He managed 2 shots from open play, 1 of which was blocked right away. The free kick was well taken, but it would have been nice if he had been a presence to contend with when the Newcastle defense cleared the ball down the field. Often his touches were very heavy and resulted in turnovers. I feel like a broken record, but it must be said: The center forward has to have more than 20 touches on the ball.
Sammy Ameobi - 6 (ON 64')
Even at 64 minutes, Ameobi was a defensive replacement and was another body charged with dealing with pressure onleft side. He did well, but it would have been nice if he had played more the role of an outlet. Instead, his was sort of a zero-sum game. That's what Pardew asked for, but honestly I expect more out of the kid.
James Perch - 5 (ON 74')
We can be certain of one thing: Perch is going to do something noteworthy as soon as he's inserted into the match. This time, it was a perfectly fine through ball to Demba Ba, setting up a corner. He proceeded to disappear for the rest of the affair. I rewatched the final minutes following Jonas' sending off with the express purpose of watching Perch and Lovenkrands to see if they were both as invisible as I first thought. Spoiler alert: they were. Perch spent the entirety of the period doing one of two things: (1) Running straight toward the man with the ball, like a kid playing in a U6 game, or (2) poorly marking Wayne Rooney. It's a tough job, one that many have failed at, but it's sort of hard for me to believe that Perch was the man charged with this responsibility. I'll call it a tactical oversight.
Peter Lovenkrands - INC (ON 80')
That Lovenkrands was chosen over Dan Gosling to enter after Jonas' card is mind-boggling to me. Lovenkrands is a cherry-picker. There was no cherry-picking to be done after the 80 minute mark - in fact, Lovenkrands spent most of his time helping Danny Simpson on the deep right, and it was his impatience with the ball that led to the cross that led to Chicharito's non-goal in the waning moments.
Sir Alex Ferguson (Post-Game) - 1
The penalty call was wrong. I believe managers should be allowed to say to the press that they disagree with a call without getting fined. That said, SAF using his bully pulpit to shame the referees is disgusting. Also, don't be afraid to admit when a team has stood toe to toe with you and lived to tell about it. That we all saw this coming a mile away makes it that much worse.
Steve McManaman - 9
#MaccaHatesTheToon is a thing for a reason, but this is ESPN we're talking about here, so his job description was clearly not objectivity on this occasion. His bit about Tim Krul showboating "for the cameras" when he made a diving stop on Patrice Evra's shot in the 83rd minute was Grade A trolling. It just doesn't get better than that.