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THE POST GAME (vs Tottenham Hotspur)

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Finally, my life has purpose once again as Newcastle kick off their 2012-2013 campaign with a WIN! I'll try to keep this short and sweet while I am still shaking the rust off. I don't want to go and pull something my first week back. If you would be so kind as to click on the link, you will be taken to a magical world of manager quotes, player tweets, and in game ratings.

First and foremost, CHN has gained a lot of new followers since last season ended and I wanted to welcome all of you, and thank both new and returning readers to THE POST GAME! (I use capitalization as my written version of spirit fingers)

Definitely a game of two halves. Even though the Toon controlled more possession in the first half, Tottenham were noticeably better, hitting the post twice. The second half, directly after a switch from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3, the game turned on its head and Newcastle enjoyed better chances and most of the momentum. I seriously doubt that this went unnoticed by Alan Pardew. I wont pretend I haven't been calling a total switch to the 4-3-3 since AP began dabbling with it last year, so I was happy to see it succeed in such an obvious fashion. It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out down the road with Demba Ba making it very clear he does not want to get stuck on the wing (although, I think scoring his first goal in 15 games might quell that discussion for the time being). Overall, I was happy with our performance and more than happy with the result.


Tim Krul 7.5 What really separates Krul from a lot of keepers, especially other young keepers, is his lack of hesitation when he does indeed decide to come out. Multiple times during the game he charged at a looping cross and punched it well out of harms way. This a thing that rarely makes the highlight film because a lot of times it is hard to see exactly where the ball would have fallen, but is a thing that he does exceptionally well and deserves recognition for it. He made a few saves, one great save in the 72nd, and had absolutely no chance on the follow up shot from Defoe off of his save in the 76th. If it weren't for the goal and a bad touch on a back pass early, he would have been an 8.5.
Davide Santon 4.5 I was extremely disappointed with Santon. He snuck forward a couple of times toward the end of match so I gave him an extra half point. Out jumped by Defoe on the Spurs' goal, but still somehow managed to turn it into an own goal if not for a terrific reaction save by Krul. When he wasn't trying to head it into his own net, he was struggling with the pace of Aaron Lennon and Kyle Walker down the wing all game. In the 37th Lennon stood him up and blew by him in a one on one to send in a cross that Gareth Bale headed into the crossbar. If there is some solace, it is that he will not face a duo as pacy as Walker and Lennon until February 9th (when he'll meet them at White Hart Lane)
James Perch 6 He struggled at times matching Defoe's speed and lost his mark. He was forced to help out on Santon's side a lot and did a good job of covering. I was surprised and happy to see him get the start when word of Colo sitting got out. I feel more comfortable with him back there than Williamson.
Steven Taylor 6 Like Perch, he also struggled with Defoe's speed at times. Taylor, even more so though, because he is a bit slower. His positioning was good for most of the game except for Defoe's post dinger,where he looked like was cemented into place as Defoe rode around him like a carousel. It was good see him back out there though, so I was not as harsh on him as I could have been.
Danny Simpson 6.5 I have seen some mixed reviews on Simpson, but I thought he played well. Got a silly yellow card early and was lucky not get sent off later in the game with a rough challenge. He did get caught ball watching on Bale's aforementioned header, but as the game wore on I felt like he found his legs more and more. Had more than one key clearance and delivered the cross that Demba Ba slotted home. All in all, I was happy with his play.
Jonas Guitierrez 7 He earned several free kicks as he frustrated Tottenham's entire right side of the pitch (his left side). Early in the match, he and HBA were the only ones able to keep the ball forward. Gave his usual 110% and did not make too many mistakes so a very solid outing for Spiderman.
Yahon Cabaye 5.5 It wasn't that he played poorly, it is just that he didn't really play. The Toon's most creative distributor disappeared from the game for large stretches and was clearly not at peak fitness. I am not worried about him, because he is a great player but he needs to get fit and fast because NUFC are a completely different team with the threat of his passing shredding apart a defense. He went off for Anita in the 71st
Cheik Tiote 6 He made a few strong tackles and held the ball well at times. The one thing that hurt his rating is his dangerous back passes. On more than one occasion he sent lazy or just plain confusing passes back to the defensive third and that needs to improve quickly! He also appeared to have aggravated his calf strain early, but did play the entire match so we will keep our eye on that.
Hatem Ben Arfa 8.5 Would have been high if he could have gotten on the ball more. He was our only excitement early as he danced around the Spurs midfielders, earning two yellow cards on Tottenham's two holding mids. Obviously, earned and converted on the match winning PK. He even won the ball on defense a few times. He looked fit and in good form. I am excited to see what he does this year.
Demba Ba 7

Kind of ironic that Demba has made it so clear he wants to play up top with Cisse more, which of course leads to the 4-4-2 that we started the game with. Then, minutes after the switch to the 4-3-3, Ba scores his first goal since last February. The rest of the game he was able to get the ball more and hold up play. Challenged Kyle Walker a few times but Walker's pace kept him in a good defensive position. Came off in the 85th for Obertan to a mighty roar from the Toon faithful.

Papiss Cisse 5.5 Almost non existent. He was hardly ever involved in play and didn't seem to have his normal spring when pressing the Tottenham back line. There are a myriad of factors that could have contributed to this like Ramadan (which just ended), disappointment at being looked over by Senegalese Olympic team, or just a lack of match fitness. It is by no means time to worry, it was just odd not to see him sprinting around at the Spurs defenders, trying to make them take a bad touch. (he did start and play the whole game, not sure why the table put him with the subs)
Vurnon Anita 6 Looks to be extremely quick and comfortable on the ball. By far the smallest player on the pitch, but does not allow himself to be pushed around. Had one bad touch in Newcastle's defensive end, but for the most part everything I saw was positive. He is tiny though!
Gabriel Obertan - Came in for Ba int he 85th and did not do enough to warrant a rating. Didn't take any bad touches and I am excited about the prospect of him and HBA in at the same time, running at fullbacks.


*Most of the Alan Pardew quotes this week pertain to a certain incident with the line judge and not the actual match

Alan Pardew

"It was a stupid moment. The linesman happened to be right in front of me when I thought tthe ball was out and I gave him a little shove and unfortunatly I found myself in the stands. I apologize 100%, it was silly. I have gone to see him and we smiled about it."

"I thought we were really, really dissiplined today. I don't think it was our best, especially during the first half. Tactically it was a really tight game. We changed it up at half time and I think that helped us. We kept out two strikers on, which was important because one of them came up with a really good goal, and that is what strikers can do"