Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

A frustrating match for Newcastle United supporters and the Geordie faithful. Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off 16 minutes into the match with a debatable red card. The Gunners were dominating early on and the red card saw NUFC draw completely back; at one point the possession was 75-25 in the favor of Arsenal. Newcastle held their shape and defensive line until the 52nd minute, where an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot deflected off of Coloccini’s leg and behind Tim Krul. A great defensive display by Newcastle; who could have easily come out of this fixture with at least a draw, despite a harsh red card from Andre Marriner, lost 1-0.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. I’m going to start off by saying that this was one of the poorest showing of officiating that I have seen in quite some time. Andre Marriner was handing out yellow cards to Newcastle players like candy on Halloween.
  2. Marriner did not have a handle on this match from the get go. This is the same referee that sent off Kieran Gibbs by mistake when it should have been Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain last season. How can someone like that still be employed as a Premier League official? Baffling.
  3. As for the Mitrovic red, we can sit and debate for days but one thing is clear, he is a building a reputation that is Balotelli-esque. The red was definitely questionable, there was no intent to injure and the ball was in the air. It was a clumsy, but costly, challenge. A borderline red but had this been Santi Cazorla or Sanchez making that challenge, it’s probably a yellow with a severe warning. Someone like Mitrovic or Tiote? Straight red. Unfortunately, in this case, you reap what you sow.
  4. Having Andre Marriner as a referee did have one advantage. Florian Thauvin tripped Hector Bellerin in the box and should have been a PK but there was no call.
  5. 6 yellow cards for Newcastle United (Sissoko 3’, Mbemba 19’, Thauvin 26’, Anita 48’, Wijnaldum 49’ & Coloccini 92’) and of course a red for Mitrovic in the 16th Only Cazorla was booked for Arsenal, and that wasn’t until the 49th minute.
  6. Speaking of discipline, this is now 2 red cards in 4 league matches and 6 in their last 14 games for the Magpies. It is surely becoming a growing concern for McClaren and the coaching staff. Need to get that sorted out.
  7. Continue reading Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal (& Andre Marriner): 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

NUFC Opponent Report: Analysing Arsenal’s trip to Tyneside

Words by Rob Saunders – you can follow him on Twitter @RobSaunders9.

Newcastle United vs Arsenal – 29th August 2015; St. James’ Park – BT Sport 1 – 12:45.

Before the season began, Arsenal were being touted as title favourites and with the squad and staff at their disposal, there was no reason to dispute that. Having signed Petr Cech from rivals Chelsea, a position that has weakened Arsenal season after season had been sorted. However, with the experienced goalkeeper being the only acquisition to date, and with Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to delve too deep in to the transfer market, cracks have again started to show for the Gunners.

Their performances this season have done nothing to suggest this will be the year Arsenal reclaim the title from Mourinho’s Chelsea, and fans are seen once again clambering for new faces before the transfer window shuts. Against West Ham, their defence was as fragile as ever, and their new £11 million man between the sticks had a case of first-night nerves – being at fault for one if not both of the goals in a 2-0 defeat. There were positives a week later, as Arsenal did what they often struggle to do; beat a lower side away from home; Arsenal wining 2-1, with Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil shining to stop the tactically astute (!) Alan Pardew and his Crystal Palace side.

Things were looking up for Arsenal, too. They hosted Liverpool next and with Brendan Rodgers’ side looking shaky up front, fans were confident of getting all three points. However, the first half was a nightmare for Arsenal, defensively poor and lacking promise up-front, had Petr Cech to thank for keeping them at 0-0 with the keeper getting over his nightmare debut with a string of fantastic saves. The second half was better, but still not good enough and Arsene Wenger has admitted his side has been ‘very average’ thus far.

However, Arsenal have arguably the best midfield in the league and one of the best in Europe. Attacking midfielders Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have the ability to turn a game on its head, with Sanchez doing so many times last year to help Arsenal to finish 3rd in the league. With Ozil and Sanchez likely to be deployed on either wing, Newcastle’s defence will have to put in a similar performance to the one at Old Trafford a week previous.

Another plus for Arsenal is the way they play. Patient build-up play, silky passing and quick attacking movement makes it hard to stop them when in full flow. If Newcastle were to defend like they did against Continue reading NUFC Opponent Report: Analysing Arsenal’s trip to Tyneside

‘Hard hair, soft heart’ – introducing NUFC new-boy Florian Thauvin

Words by Chris Campbell for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

As Florian Thauvin emerged from the tunnel at St James’ Park, he took a moment to soak in the silence of an empty St James’ Park.

“Beautiful,” he said as he scanned his new surroundings. Neither the first nor last player to admire the unique construction and billowing stands that seem to touch the clouds, he was clearly content with his new home. For Graham Carr Thauvin’s presentation represented the completion of a chase dating back some three years when he witnessed a precocious winger delight the fans of Sporting Club de Bastia with his mazy dribbles and care-free spirit.

“It’s a really big pleasure to know the club has wanted me for such a long time,” Thauvin told NUFCTV. The former home of Michael Essien, Bastia had afforded Thauvin his first professional contract, something he was eternally grateful for. Nestled on the island of Corsica – south east of the French mainland – the club earned promotion to Ligue 1 in 2012 with the help of Thauvin.

Finishing a respectable 12th place, the campaign proved equally as successful for Thauvin individually as he recorded 10 goals in 24 starts. Collecting the Young Player of the season award, he was also named ‘best hope’ by tv channel Canal+, where he accepted his award live on TV. Quick to thank coach Frédéric Hantz and the technical staff for their help during the season, it had proven a breakout season for Thauvin in the French top flight.

Stood in front of his peers – including Remy Cabella- as he delivered his speech at the tender age of 20 there was an evident nervousness. The on-field swagger that had seen him take on the defenders of Paris Saint-Germain as if they were friends in the park had not yet translated to public speaking.

From there the seemingly endless discussion about him began. Much has been said about Thauvin the person – not all of it good.

One interview described him as Continue reading ‘Hard hair, soft heart’ – introducing NUFC new-boy Florian Thauvin

Newcastle United 0-0 Manchester United: 20 Thoughts & Tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

A staggering defensive display from Newcastle today, one that fans had not seen in quite some time, was one of the main reasons for a startling draw at Old Trafford today. Wayne Rooney seemed to have put Manchester United up early but was flagged for offside. Man U kept pushing and had the Magpies on their backheels. Once Newcastle settled down and kept a little bit of possession, Mbemba delivered a wonderful lob that met Mitrovic’s head but rattled the crossbar. There were some other tremendous opportunities for Manchester; one from Chicharito late in the match, but Tim Krul displayed some utter brilliance to keep it out. Steve McClaren subbed Tioté on in the 78th minute and the team held their defensive shape to escape Old Trafford with a point.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  1. It was a very sluggish start, Newcastle was luckily to not be down 2-0 early on, but once they weathered the storm, and kept possession, the Magpies looked much better. They got better as the game went on.
  2. There was a major gap between the midfielders and defenders at the beginning of the match. Anita, Colback and Wijnaldum were not on the same page as Steven Taylor and Coloccini. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Januzaj and Rooney had plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field. But once again, when Newcastle weathered the storm and picked up their defensive responsibilities, the game took a turn.
  3. This should be the last time we see Gabriel Obertan starting. Ayozé displayed some great defensive instincts on the left hand side and was helping Haidara as much as he could. The same cannot be said for Obertan. Depay and Mbemba were going at it 1 on 1 95% of the time and Chancel was on an island by himself, without the help of his winger. Poor display by Obertan today, with Thauvin fit and much better options (Aarons, Ayoze, Sissoko if healthy), Obertan’s days in the starting lineup are numbered.
  4. We got a glimpse of what Mitrovic brings to the table when he receives proper service. In the 20th minute, the Anderlecht boys connected for the best chance Newcastle had all match. A great cross from Mbemba reached Mitrovic’s forehead and his powerful header smashed the crossbar. Here are two angles of the chance: &
  5. Speaking of Mitrovic; I thought he was great today and displayed some fantastic power and defensive abilities. He was tracking back and clearing away corners; something we never saw from Papiss Cissé. However, soon he will realize that he won’t get all the calls all the time, that this is a different league and he’ll start having a massive target on his back (if he hasn’t already). This guy is becoming problematic for the opposition and they are trying to rattle him as much as possible. Kudos to Mitro for standing his ground today and not reacting to bad tackles and receiving another yellow.
  6. This was by far Coloccini’s best game this season. No doubt, man of the match. Held his ground, was a leader on the back line and had them all pick up their defensive duties. Key blocks and uncanny tackling; we got a taste of old Colo today. Happy to see that.
  7. Someone else who has been poor recently but was incredible tonight: Tim Krul. Had an astonishing game changing save on Chicharito in the 79th minute ( that protected Newcastle from earning no points today. Krul was in control all day. Was he showing off in front of his old national team coach?
  8. Keep in mind, Newcastle was missing arguably their two players today (Moussa Sissoko and Daryl Janmaat). Stupendous performance without those two.
  9. What more can you say about Chancel Mbemba? I keep harping on his abilities and defensive prow. Memphis got the best of him at times but the Chancellor held his own. Not your typical RB, a much more natural CB, he did present some beautiful touches and as previously mentioned, delivered an incredible ball to Mitrovic.
  10. Florian Thauvin also looked the part today, which is impressive since he has only had about 2 training sessions with the club. He looked like he belonged today, it won’t always be smooth sailing but you can tell he’s got the touch and vision to be a player in this league. Hopefully he is the solution to the problematic and dreadful service Mitrovic has received up top. Here are some of Thauvin’s touches today (
  11. Another solid performance by Wijnaldum. By no means did he wow or stand out, but he was quietly good and that’s still impressive in a defensively tactic scheme put out by McClaren today. He pushed out wide with 10 minutes left in the match and played well; this man can play all over the field. Once Sissoko is healthy, those two will strive playing together.
  12. I thought Ayozé was also quietly good today; he brought a different dynamic to the wing that Obertan does not bring and is responsible defensively, which is important when playing next to Haidara. Perez’s craftiness and his knack of knowing when to cut left or right, or turn around the defender is incredibly important when you play on a starting 11 that lacks creativity; and let’s be honest, creativity is one of this team’s biggest deficiency.
  13. Wijnaldum and Mitrovic were on the same page, and their confidence and comfort with one another will keep growing as the season goes on.
  14. Vurnon Anita was good, once again. He did not have the best of games versus Swansea last week but looked worthy today. Nice to see his career and game revitalized under a manager that knows how and where to play him.
  15. In Manchester United’s defense, Wayne Rooney’s goal was not offside.
  16. Haidara’s positioning in today’s match is something else ( Seems like he’s more of a winger than a fullback these days. This is one of the club’s biggest issues; they need a real LB and/or a cover RB. Cannot keep playing Mbemba on at RB anymore, don’t want him to become another Mbiwa.
  17. This was one of the most exciting 0-0 matches I’ve watched in quite some time.
  18. At the 78th minute, McClaren brought Tioté on for Perez and the team sat back and did their best impression of mimicking a wall. 45 clearances, 32 tackles, 26 blocks (!!), 13 interceptions and a clean sheet. Like I said, a wall.
  19. With one of the toughest start of the season schedule in the whole Premier League, coming out of Old Trafford with a point is a big result and a major boost of confidence for this team going forward. It all goes back to the players listening to the manager’s words and executing the proposed plan. Need to see the same performance next week at home versus Arsenal.
  20. Fans started seeing the impact Steve McClaren is having on this club. A reformed team and the tactics seem to be working. Today he had a plan and the team exquisitely executed it. The club may have looked exposed early on but the veterans like Coloccini, Steven Taylor and Krul made sure the team held their ground to come out with a point. Instead of harping about gaining a point away at Old Trafford, McClaren talked about missing out on 3 points. That is the difference between him and Alan Pardew. Talk to you next week!

MOTM: Fabricio Coloccini

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Mbemba, Taylor, Coloccini, Haidara, Anita, Colback, Wijnaldum, Obertan (Thauvin 69), Perez (Tioté 78), Mitrovic (Cissé 88).

MANCHESTER UNITED: Romero, Darmian (Valencia 77), Smalling, Blind, Shaw, Schweinsteiger (Carrick 59), Schneiderlin, Januzaj (Hernandez 67), Mata, Memphis, Rooney.

Ref: Craig Pawson

Crowd: 75, 354


Newcastle United player ratings:

Tim Krul – 8

Chancel Mbemba – 8.5

Steven Taylor – 7

Fabricio Coloccini – 9

Massadio Haidara – 6.5

Jack Colback – 6.5

Vurnon Anita – 7

Georginio Wijnaldum – 7.5

Ayoze Perez – 7 (Cheick Tioté – N/A)

Gabriel Obertan – 5 (Florian Thauvin – 7)

Aleksandar Mitrovic – 8 (Papiss Cissé (N/A)

An Inside Look At Florian Thauvin and why his path to Newcastle United resembles Hatem Ben Arfa’s

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

On August 19th 2015, Newcastle United officially announced their 5th signing of the summer. 22 year-old midfielder Florian Thauvin was signed from Olympique de Marseille for a £13 million transfer fee, which brings Newcastle’s summer spending to a whopping £50 million.

This is the most Mike Ashley has sanctioned in funds, in a single window, topping last summer’s £38 million. Long gone are the days of complaining about the owner not spending and investing into the club. Included in the deal with Marseille is Newcastle midfielder Rémy Cabella, who was signed last summer for £10 million from Montpellier. Cabella is going back to the Ligue 1 and will suit up with French giants l’Olympique de Marseille on a loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the spell. The Thauvin signing stands as the 15th French players to sign with Newcastle in the past 5 years (Cabaye, Débuchy, Amalfitano, Sissoko, Haidara, Yanga-Mbiwa, Ben Arfa, Cabella, Kemen, Gouffran, Obertan, Rivière, Marveaux, Rémy, Thauvin).

While some may say this is a straight swap of similar type players, it most definitely is not. Florian Thauvin is a natural winger, some Marseille fans say he is best used on the right side, but others claim he plays better on the left. Rémy Cabella was used all over the place and sometimes out of position last season under Pardew and Carver (surprise, surprise). Naturally a #10, Cabella would’ve been behind Wijnaldum, De Jong, Ayoze and Sissoko, in that pecking order, to play the CAM position. There was simply no room for him on the roster anymore. Cabella was seen as a flashy, tacky and flamboyant type of player, whereas Thauvin is more known to be a hard-nosed, pest. The U21 midfielder had drawn comparisons to Franck Ribéry when he was coming through the French system.

The signing of Florian Thauvin puts an end to a multi-year chase by head scout Graham Carr and the director’s board. Newcastle United have wanted this player for a long, long time. It is almost like a trophy signing for Carr. In January 2014, he was named by The Observer as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe. The ruggedness of Thauvin continues a trend of character that we’ve seen through players in the transfer window, including Mitrovic, Wijnaldum and Mbemba. McClaren wants to change the identity of Continue reading An Inside Look At Florian Thauvin and why his path to Newcastle United resembles Hatem Ben Arfa’s

Swansea 2-0 Newcastle United: 20 thoughts & tidbits

Words by Aziz Khalil – follow him on Twitter @azizk47. Written for NUFC360 – a new brand aiming to bring you all things Newcastle United. Be sure to follow for updates.

Glad this one is over. A sluggish start for Newcastle, who found themselves down a goal after 9 minutes. Shelvey slipped a pass through Newcastle’s back four and found Gomis all by himself with Krul, made a move and put it past the keeper. Janmaat kept Gomis onside, it was Mbemba’s man but he held the line properly. Coloccini needs to take control and leadership of his back line, absolutely poor on his part. After the goal, Newcastle seemed to turn the tide a bit and settle down, until the 41st minute, where Janmaat was handed his 2nd yellow and sent off. It was all Swansea from there. In the 52nd minute, Andre Ayew scored on a header (of course), with a beautiful cross from Montero. A very poor display, with some injury concern to Sissoko and a red to Janmaat, Newcastle United are in trouble next weekend at Old Trafford.

Here are my 20 thoughts and tidbits:

  • This was the complete opposite of the Southampton match. Very sloppy defending, no control, a sluggish start and some disciplinary problems.
  • Speaking of disciplinary issues: we got a little glimpse of the deep-rooted issues that has surrounded this club under Pardew and Carver today. With Janmaat’s red, that is now 5 red cards in 12 matches for Newcastle United. Absolutely inexcusable, we all thought McClaren would clean up the identity and discipline of this club. Haven’t seen it yet, but it’s very, very early in the process.
  • Haidara was once again shocking today. Not the answer at LB. Perhaps Dummett is the answer; I don’t know but would love to see another LB brought in. I’ve been yearning for Ghoulam at LB, would fit McClaren’s philosophy and back four perfectly.
  • Chancel Mbemba looked good, I don’t fault him for the goal, it was on Janmaat, who kept Gomis onside. When Janmaat received the red card, Mbemba was slotted in at RB and held his own but you can tell he did not look comfortable. Montero got the best of him only once but Mbemba won a few tackles.
  • With Janmaat’s red, he will miss the next match vs Manchester United. There aren’t any other RB options on the roster; this was one of the issues in the transfer window. I’m dreading having Mbemba play there with Steven Taylor in the middle. Chancel’s preferred and best position is CB; please do not turn him into another Yanga-Mbiwa! He does not have the creativity or passing touch to be a RB, he’s a rugged player with great pace, and unbelievable tackling skills but does not bring much going forward.
  • Daryl Janmaat was not good today, at all. The same player, who was without a doubt the most consistent for Newcastle last season, has started this one off on the wrong foot. Perhaps the one man we cannot afford to lose. He had a dreadful match, we understand the gameplan was to shut down Montero, but Janmaat is much better than that. Should’ve been a lot more cautious with an early yellow and the referee did let him get away with a few bad tackles but enough was enough. Even the match commentators kept mentioning how Janmaat needs to be more careful.
  • Was also quite disappointed in Georginio Wijnaldum. I do not think his best position is the #10. He should be playing next to Colback in the middle, as a #6, have Colback play Anita’s position and De Jong at the #10, but of course that was not possible today with Siem’s injury. Gini played well vs Southampton, but did not notice him much today. To be fair, no one played well.
  • Hopefully this puts an end to the Obertan vs Aarons debate. Rolando needs to start, he’s not the type of player that gets put on the pitch as a sub and thrives. He’s the type that gets better as the match goes on, needs to get his feet settled. I would like to see him start next match.
  • Did Papiss Cissé play today? He had 26 touches today in 54 minutes. Mitrovic had 32 touches in 13 minutes. Outrageous that McClaren keeps going back to Papiss.
  • On that note, why did the board pay £13M to have Mitrovic ride the bench? Him, along with Aarons, need to start vs Man U next weekend. They are the types of players that get better as the match goes on. Both need to start to have an impact on the match.
  • What’s happened to Tim Krul, by the way? Has been in shocking form since the World Cup heroics. I love this article by Malcolm MacDonald, an inside look at Krul’s recent struggles.
  • The back four gave up another headed goal today. Look at how poorly Coloccini defended Ayew’s goal. This is our captain, people. Embarrassing.
  • You could blame Coloccini’s fitness for his poor form last weekend, but enough is enough, he is not the same player he used to be. It is time to move on.
  • If there are any positives from this match, it’s that the board and Steve McClaren will realize that 3 players in are not sufficient. McClaren has recently stated that he is happy with the transfers and the way the team looks. Today’s result questions McClaren’s statements. The club needs more than 3. There are some glaring holes, a LB (Haidara?), CB (Coloccini?), winger (Obertan?). And now add to the fact that there are injury concerns to De Jong and Sissoko, it may hopefully fasten the process to bring some players in.
  • For the record, I’ve been supporting McClaren’s tactics and philosophy since his appointment, but playing 4-5-0 today was mind-boggling. This is not the club I chose to support. McClaren took Cissé off and put Aarons on but kept Mitrovic on the bench until the 82nd minute and replaced Obertan for him. You’d rather be happy with a 2-0 loss while parking the bus, than trying to get some goals while being vulnerable defensively and perhaps losing 4-0? I’d rather a team that tries!
  • If you think Mitrovic isn’t fit enough to play, do you think throwing him on the pitch in the 82nd minute will change that? He’s too good of a player to not be starting. (Ps, I’m still trying to figure out why this was deemed a yellow card. Mitrovic is growing a bad reputation, Tioté-esque. Not good.
  • Gomis and Ayew scored for Swansea. How ironic; two players that have been linked to Newcastle for a few years now.
  • Anita took a step back for me today. Was quiet. Thought he was very instrumental in the last match but was invisible today. Steven Taylor was surprisingly good.
  • These road matches are becoming an issue. Newcastle have won 1 game on the road in the last 14 and have had 1 clean sheet in the last 13. Problematic.
  • Is it time to panic? I don’t think so. It’s still very early in the season but NUFC have one of the toughest start of the season schedule in the whole PL. These are the types of matches they need to get a point out of, especially with the likes of Man U, West Ham, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City coming up. For now, it’s one match at a time. It’ll be a great match next weekend at Old Trafford, talk to you then!

SWANSEA: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, N Taylor, Montero (Routledge 76), Shelvey, Sigurdsson (Britton 86), Cork, Ayew (Dyer 72), Gomis

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Haidara, Colback, Anita, Sissoko (S Taylor 46), Wijnaldum, Obertan (Mitrovic 82), Cisse (Aarons 54)

Ref: Mike Jones

Crowd: 20,678