Coming to Old Trafford, there was an unusual sense of optimism from Newcastle fans. Even though Manchester United had won their last three Premier League games 1-0 since their heavy defeat to Manchester City, their performances weren’t entirely convincing.
Newcastle’s performance at the Etihad last week gave a lot of hope and their gritted performance continued through to Saturday, as some backs to the walls defending and some outstanding saves from Tim Krul gave Newcastle a deserved draw at Old Trafford.
Man Utd full backs get joy against Newcastle wide men
Jonas Gutierrez has arguably had his best season in a black and white shirt this season, however Saturday was a day he’d like to forget.
Uncharacteristically, his passing was poor – 57% completed compared to a season average of 79% and his 50/50 ground dual rate was under par as well – 29% compared to a season average of 49%.
A frustrating afternoon against Manchester United’s right back Fabio, as Gutierrez attempted four dribbles, but was only successful with one. As seen below, Fabio won 5 out of 6 tackles, successfully nullifying Gutierrez’s threat from the left hand side.
His frustration spilled over as he was cautioned for a late challenge on Michael Carrick on the 65th minute and then a rash tackle on Nani just 13 minutes later, resulting in a one match ban against Chelsea.
On the other side, Gabriel Obertan returned from injury and didn’t fare much better against Patrice Evra – Evra winning all three tackles. Obertan did manage to get four crosses in from the right wing, however like the majority of his crosses this season, they have failed to find a Newcastle player. Before this game, only 3 of his 23 crosses have been successful.
As with Gutierrez, he had a poor passing rate (52%, lowest outfield starting player) and was the least successful with ground duels (17%).
Cabaye and Guthrie close play down with success
Unlike against City, where Cabaye and Guthrie sat deep and waited for City to pass through them (only 1 tackle was attempted by the pair last week), both players chased the ball against the more defensive pairing of Giggs and Carrick – and with more success too.
The central midfield pairing made the most tackles from the Newcastle team, as Cabaye was successful with 5 out of 6 tackles and Guthrie making 3 out of 4 tackles – in contrast with Giggs and Carrick who only completed 4 tackles out of 11, as a pair. As you can see from below, the tackles aren’t concentrated in the centre of the pitch. Cabaye making tackles from both wings and Guthrie making tackles in the defensive third as well. It is one of the reasons why Newcastle has done well defensively and ultimately, deserve their 4th place in the Premier League.
Danny Guthrie has played well in Tiote’s absence – which will be a relief, as Tiote will likely be away in January for the African Cup of Nations.
Defend, defend, defend
After Gutierrez’s sending off, it sparked an onslaught from Manchester United, as they continued to look for a winning goal. They attempted 13 shots on goal in the last 10 minutes, nearly matching the 16 shots they attempted before the sending off.
Despite attempting 13 shots on goal, only 3 were on target – Krul making saves from Evra and Vidic from point blank range. Danny Simpson was in the right place and the right time to prevent Javier Hernandez grabbing his second goal of the match.
A combination of some poor finishing from Manchester United, blocking and effective defending from Newcastle; doing just enough to put their players off, as Steven Taylor did when Ashley Young looked likely to score.
Out of the 28 shots attempted, Newcastle blocked 9 shots, with Steven Taylor blocking five. Taylor has completed more blocks than any other player in the Premier League (27 / 2.1 per game), leading Swansea’s Ashley Williams by five blocks.
Up until the sending off, it was an even and tense contest. The first half was very tight, as Newcastle fended off Hernandez and Rooney with much success – Rooney who had scored 9 goals against Newcastle in 12 appearances for Manchester United, failed to register a shot on goal in the whole match.
Manchester United dominated possession (60% v 40%), although that was skewed as in the last 10 minutes, Newcastle sat deep to preserve the draw. After Gutierrez’s dismissal, Newcastle only made 3 passes out of 18 (16%), in contrast to Manchester United’s 94 out of 108 (87%).
It was another performance that Newcastle will be proud of. Tim Krul produced another excellent display and the whole team performed like ‘Geordie heroes’ as Pardew put it. The point leaves Newcastle in 4th place on 26 points, 8 points better off than last year after playing the same amount of games.
Next up a home match against Chelsea, who look to be going through a sticky patch, despite their win against Wolves at the weekend. Offensively they look dangerous with Mata and in-form Daniel Sturridge. However, defensively they don’t look comfortable and Newcastle will look to capitalise on this.