Thanks to some good fortune and backs to the wall defending, Newcastle left Molineux with three points and maintained their unbeaten record this season. Our last away outing at Villa, we played and kept the ball better, but only left with a draw, so it was nice to see a bit of luck on our side for once.
Demba Ba opened the scoring on the 17th minute, after nodding in a near post corner from Yohan Cabaye and as the chant goes, scoring his 4th goal since Ramadan and his 11th Premier League goal in 2011 – 3rd behind Wayne Rooney (19) and Van Persie (18).
Jonas Gutierrez scored a sublime goal on the 38th, as he picked up a loose ball ten yards into the Wolves’ half and surged past four players and wrong footing Roger Johnson, before striking the ball past Wayne Hennessey with his left foot.
Newcastle were comfortable until the last twenty minutes where we failed to maintain possession and sat back deeper and deeper as we dealt with a barrage of crosses. On the 88th minute, substitute Adam Hammill floated a cross to the back post for Steven Fletcher to head the ball past Tim Krul, who had kept us in the match with some outstanding saves.
Wolves would have felt aggrieved at the end of the match, after having a goal disallowed and a penalty claim wrongly refused, but overall the referee had a poor game giving wrong decisions on a number of occasions to each team.
Although, we were in control for the majority of the game, there were times throughout the match were Wolves looked dangerous from their wings. Wolves made a staggering 45 crosses in the match, but only 14 (31%) reached a team mate – Matt Jarvis and Jamie O’Hara producing 31 crosses between them.
A combination of some good defending, poor crossing and poor finishing meant that Wolves weren’t able to capitalise on this and with so many crosses coming in from the wings, worryingly Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor continued to back off. Simpson made only one tackle and blocked two crosses whilst Taylor didn’t make any tackles and blocked only two crosses as well. In the end, some poor defending from Simpson and Obertan allowed Hammill to cross for Fletcher’s goal. Minutes later, both players failed to stop Hammill again, but luckily for Newcastle, the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line before Jarvis could head the ball back for Doyle.
In contrast, Newcastle attempted 14 crosses in the match and only 2 (14%) were successful – one being Yohan Cabaye’s corner that led to the opening goal.
Need for service
With two big strikers leading the line with good aerial ability, it would be ideal for our wingers to provide some service – unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Obertan, despite possessing the pace and trickery to get past defenders, seems to lack the confidence to do so. As you can see from the Guardian chalkboards above, most of his work is done outside the 18 yard box and very little is played into the area. On the other wing, Gutierrez has done a sterling job in the past few games, helping to protect Ryan Taylor at left back – but he is not comfortable crossing with his left foot and opts to cut in.
If Pardew wanted more creativity down the wings and crosses into Ba and Best, one possible option available once Santon is fully fit is to replace Ryan Taylor at left back, move Gutierrez onto the right wing and bring Marveaux into the team on the left wing. Marveaux has already shown in pre-season and in his brief appearances this season that he is willing to run, cross and take on defenders.
Keeping the Wolves at bay
With the onslaught of crosses from Wolves, we defended well for the majority of the match. We made 53 clearances, the most clearances this season (2nd highest vs Fulham 42). Steven Taylor made the most clearances (12) and blocked the most attempted shots (4), continuing his impressive defensive displays he has had all season. As a result of the amount of clearances we had, we didn’t keep the ball as we did in previous games.
We made fewer clearances against Blackburn (34) and Villa (35), as less pressure and more time and space was given to our defenders to pass the ball out and retaining possession – against Wolves we didn’t have this option.
Tim Krul also had an outstanding game making six crucial saves and looked very comfortable dealing with their high balls and crosses.
After recent positive displays recently against Blackburn and Villa, it turned out to be more difficult this time round. Wolves had more possession (54% v 46%) and made slightly more passes (248 v 226) and attempted more shots (19 v 10) – although only 37% (7) of their shots were on target, whilst two goals resulted from our five shots on target.
Even though Leon Best didn’t register a shot against Wolves (2 blocked), his work-rate around the pitch shouldn’t be underestimated. A willing runner who will fight for the ball and hold the ball up well – he also created the most chances (4) in the side.
Another three points and still unbeaten with seven games played. It’s been a marvellous start and sees us in 4th position in the Premier League campaign. With Hatem Ben Arfa, Sylvain Marveaux and Davide Santon waiting on the wings to offer more attacking options, it’s looking rather rosy for Newcastle.