It started off as a nervy 30 minutes at St James’ Park, as we struggled to maintain possession after a good start from Fulham. A good end to the half put us in good stead for the second half, as a double from Leon Best was enough to fend off a late comeback from Fulham, after a Clint Dempsey header caught Tim Krul off his line to give the Cottagers a faint glimmer of hope.
Cabaye had a very good game and after a very difficult start to Premier League, his quality is starting to show with his range of passing and eye for a goal.
Cabaye attempted 56 passes of which 82% of them (43) were successful – 2 leading to goal scoring opportunities. As the diagram below shows, he can pop up across the whole of midfield and has the ability to spray 30-40 yard passes across the pitch. He managed to play the long pass in behind Fulham’s defence on a few occasions and hopefully if we sign a pacy striker before the transfer deadline, we can take full advantage of Cabaye’s vision and passing.
Partnering Cabaye in central midfield, Cheik Tiote had an indifferent game and worryingly, has done since the season started. Against Fulham, he completed 76% (42 out of 55) of his passes – which is a considerable drop compared to the 87% average pass rate he achieved last year. Tiote also lost the ball on eight occasions – four times being caught on the ball and the other four from bad control. This amount in one game is nearly a quarter of the amount that he lost in the whole of last season. Famed for being booked a record breaking 14 times last season, it was a surprise that he wasn’t booked on Sunday after giving away six fouls.
Quickly becoming a cult hero amongst Newcastle fans on Twitter, Leon Best hasn’t had many opportunities in the past, but when given the chance, he does give his all.
His first goal was just a case of being at the right place at the right time (always a good trait of a striker) and the second showed a bit of skill to take the ball on the turn and score with his weaker foot.
He completed 70% of his passes (14 out of 20), which is about average for a striker and won half of his 50-50 ground and aerial duels – which isn’t bad considering he was up against the towering Hangeland and experienced Aaron Hughes. Two shots, two goals. Leon Best is indeed mint. Unfortunately, you couldn’t say the same for Peter Lovenkrands. On the pitch for 63 minutes, he only touched the ball 13 times. His replacement, Demba Ba had 7 more touches in the 27 minutes or so he had on the pitch.
Tim Krul had another exceptional game and made two point blank saves from Steve Sidwell and Danny Murphy – reinforcing his claim for the number one jersey.
Next up – QPR away and possibly the debut of a certain Joseph Barton.