It started off as a frustrating 70 minutes of football, as Bolton stifled Newcastle and made it difficult for the home team to build any sustained pressure. It didn’t look like it was going to be Newcastle’s day.
However, a piece of individual brilliance from Hatem Ben Arfa, provided a goal worthy of goal of the season, as he danced through the centre of Bolton’s midfield and defence to calmly slot the ball into Adam Bogdan’s net.
Newcastle started off with a 4-4-2 formation – utility man James Perch played alongside Yohan Cabaye in the centre of midfield. Captain Coloccini came back into the team and Davide Santon was brought in at left back.
Bolton frustrate Newcastle
Owen Coyle lined up his team in a 4-5-1 formation and by packing his midfield, it stopped Newcastle playing freely in the centre of the pitch. Cisse and Ba often came short to make up the extra man in midfield to receive the ball.
Another part of Bolton’s gameplan was to give Newcastle as little space as possible whenever Newcastle were in possession in the middle of the pitch. As you can see from the chalkboard below, Bolton committed 18 fouls in total, 11 fouls in the first half alone – an average of 1 every 4 minutes – the majority of fouls being in the middle third. Bolton’s midfield pairing Darren Pratley and Reo-Coker were given the role to chase after the ball in the midfield and committed 7 fouls between them.
The stop-start nature of the first half worked to Bolton’s advantage and similar to Newcastle’s performance against Swansea, Bolton restricted space between defence and midfield and were happy with Newcastle playing the ball across their defence.
Next Page: Newcastle Shut Down Bolton and Ben Arfa’s brilliance opens Bolton up