Despite many Geordie fans’ initial resistance to Alan Pardew’s appointment in 2010, few can argue with their teams overall performance this season. Beginning with an unbeaten run of 11 matches built a fantastic platform for their season, although recent weeks have seen inconsistent performances and results.
After last week’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal, Pardew admitted Newcastle’s chance of qualifying for the Champions League was over. Prior to the game, he had hyped up the importance of getting a result against the Gunners, so defeat would’ve come as a big blow. Certainly Newcastle worked extremely hard in a game they were chasing most of the time.
Pardew is pretty much a 4-4-2 man and this has been his favoured formation all season. But he does tweak things for certain games, as he showed in last week’s match against Arsenal. There, he played 4-4-1-1 which played more like a 4-5-1 to combat Arsenal’s dominance in midfield.
Newcastle’s best performance of the season came in January with a 3-0 victory over Manchester United. Pardew’s tactics involved two key components: pressing high up the pitch and hitting long balls up to Ameobi and Ba. Their height and strength were used to great effect and is something Norwich City struggled with at Carrow Road, despite winning 4-2. So this might be a tactic Pardew employs again on Sunday.
The game against Manchester United is a good example of how Pardew adapts against strong teams. However, with all due respect to Norwich, Pardew will most likely opt to play their normal formation and style, so expect a 4-4-2 with a deeper back line and less intense pressing.
One criticism of Newcastle’s squad is that it doesn’t have strength in-depth. This could partly explain why their form has dropped off recently – regular starters will be more susceptible to fatigue as the season wears on. The Arsenal game is a good example with Tiote suffering cramp, Ba being on his last legs at full-time and right-back Danny Simpson being forced to play to the end despite carrying an injury.
Next Page: Newcastle line-up and average stats for the season…