Newcastle has, in a sense, sprung back to life. After getting shellacked by Southampton (alliteration!), this team was given up for dead. But, against the odds, the Magpies have come back, are just outside the top half of the table, and completed the vaunted #StretchofDoom when they took games from Tottenham and Liverpool in the league, and won at Manchester City in cup competition.
A sure sign that fans are feeling good about the club? A lot of sevens and eights in the player rater. Let's get to it.
Goalkeeper and Back Line
Overall, people liked Tim Krul on the day. Liverpool was for the most part kept at bay, but Krul had to make a few huge stops down the stretch to preserve the 1-0 win. My guess is that his lone two came from a disgruntled Costa Rica fan still upset over the Dutchman's epic performance in PK's in Brazil.
The back line was fairly stout this game. Liverpool only got off six shots, three of them were on target. Over half of the respondents rated Captain Colo an eight, and the Argentine did seem to turn in one of his better games in quite some time. The other person to highlight is Steven Taylor, who is no doubt making up for lost time by playing a full 90 minutes after getting a mid-week start, after missing considerable time to injury. Taylor also picked up a yellow card for being himself when he tried to distract Liverpool's keeper prior to a free kick. While the few Liverpool fans in my Twitter feed didn't like it, I sure appreciated seeing him back at it.
For a team that only say 36% of possession, the midfield was rated fairly high. The unit did a nice job of sticking together when Gabriel Obertan went down early in the match and had to be replaced. It was hard to get a good read on how he played due to his limited minutes, which is why I think you see such a fluctuation in his scores. His replacement, Rolando Aarons did well in in relief, scoring a good amount of sixes and sevens. Sammy Ameobi scored a bit lower, with I think fans not liking how he faded before being taken out of this one. Ameobi seems to be a player that goes full out all the time, and he might need to learn how to control his energy more.
The real star of the midfield though was Mehdi Abeid. Even the trolls that give everyone twos had to tip their hat to Abeid. It isn't hard to see why. He made good passes all day. But, he was also great in defense. He had seven successful tackles and made two interceptions. If you're going to give up a lot of possession, you can't allow dangerous possession, and Abeid was one of the main reasons why. Check out his day, via FourFourTwo:
And as busy as he was, Abeid only committed one foul. He played smart football, broke up the Liverpool attack, and made good passes. Not hard to see why he was your Man of the Match.
Call it a poacher's goal, call it whatever you want, but Ayoze Perez scored the goal to give Newcastle all three points. He did well to create some chances as well, being credited with two chances created from FourFourTwo. He was more involved in the match than Papiss Cisse was. Cisse had a few chances that he couldn't convert on, but for the most part did his job of re-enforcing the notion that he can't play up top alone. Perhaps its a credit to Alan Pardew that Cisse only got the 45 minutes. It seemed like Perez's style better suited what Liverpool was giving, and he was rewarded for his efforts with the goal.
I think you can criticize Pardew for continuing to play Cisse up front alone when that has literally never worked, but I really thought his tactics were on point. He clogged the midfield with five players who would frustrate Liverpool. He took a gamble at half time with the Perez sub. He should also get some credit for bringing on Aarons to fill in for Obertan after the early injury, and not bring in a Yoan Gouffran who has been struggling this season. Pardew managed a pretty decent game. Whether or not he was ever in danger of getting sacked is mute. In a week that could have easily seen the club drop two league matches and bow out of cup competition, instead saw newcastle jump up to 11th with some winnable games coming up in league, as well as advancing to (yet another) away match in the Capital One Cup. Credit where credit is due.
Of course, three people still say he managed an awful game. So, I guess it's for them that I dedicated my tweet from the last match:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Couldn't resist. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NUFC?src=hash">#NUFC</a> <a href="http://t.co/yNgTShqoIL">pic.twitter.com/yNgTShqoIL</a></p>— Alan Hoffmann (@AlanHoffmann) <a href="https://twitter.com/AlanHoffmann/status/528560451937128448">November 1, 2014</a></blockquote>
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