Another draw for Newcastle United at St. James’ Park, this time against Swansea City.
It was another tale of two halves for the Magpies as they played with good energy and urgency in the first half, but came out of the tunnel in the second half with minimal aggression and settled for a 1-1 draw against Swansea City. Not only did Newcastle United need to defeat Swansea City on Saturday to avoid relegation, the Magpies should have won the game comfortably, but missed opportunities and a lack of energy led to a disappointing result.
Before everyone turns their attention to the match next weekend against Manchester City, let us take a look at five key observations from Saturday’s match against Swansea City.
Wrong Formation and Lineup
Over the course of the season, Rafa Benitez has either used a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-2 formation. Benitez deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation on Saturday, but in a match against an inferior opponent that has conceded 34 goals in 22 matches, Benitez should have gone with a 4-4-2 formation to create more chances against Swansea City’s vulnerable defense.
In addition to the formation, a key question that should have been raised in the mind of every Newcastle supporter is how Mohamed Diame got the nod in midfield over Mikel Merino? The match against Swansea City would have been a perfect time for the duo of Jonjo Shelvey and Mikel Merino to showcase their passing abilities. With Diame in midfield, the Magpies did not maintain possession and found it difficult to string together meaningful passes, especially in the second half.
One cross after another from the wings led to some great opportunities for Dwight Gayle to score, but the forward was not able to build on his three goals this season. Ayoze Perez continued his good form on Saturday as he maneuvered his way into the penalty area multiple times.
The Magpies have been able to find their way into the opposition’s penalty area in every game, but it means nothing when their finishing is so poor. At times, shots that should be grounded fly over the bar or shots that should be placed in the side netting are aimed towards the goalkeeper. Missed opportunities could lead to relegation if this issue is not resolved over the next few games.
Lack of Energy
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The first half of the match was eventful for Newcastle United as the Magpies played with an attacking mentality and had seven shots by half-time, including a goal that was disallowed due to the offside flag being raised.
The energy of the first half disappeared when the referee blew his whistle to start the second half. The Magpies struggled with their passes and some poor defensive marking enabled Swansea City to build more confidence as they ended up taking a 1-0 lead before Joselu equalized eight minutes later. If the Magpies wish to remain in the top flight they must play with urgency to take three points for all 90 minutes, regardless of who they play.
The American international had his best performance of the season on Saturday and was undoubtedly the best Magpie on the pitch. Aside from mistiming a pass in a dangerous area, DeAndre Yedlin used his incredible pace to his advantage on both ends of the field on Saturday.
Yedlin was the best defender as he closed in on midfielders and forwards in a matter of a few seconds, and did a great job switching with his midfield team-mates to block off through balls on the wings. Yedlin was also active in Newcastle’s counter-attacks as he made it difficult for Swansea City defenders to guard him, which in turn enabled him to send in some decent crosses.
Playing at Home
When opponents come to St. James’ Park, two things should cross their minds. Firstly, what a spectacular stadium and secondly, what a loud and difficult atmosphere to play in. Well, the stadium is amazing, and the atmosphere is unmatched in the Premier League, but the eleven men on the field have failed to utilize that factor to win matches.
The occasional draw at home is perfectly fine, but to draw and lose as many games as Newcastle United have in front of their loyal supporters this season is unacceptable. The truth is that if Newcastle United continue to drop points at home this season against sides they should defeat, the Magpies will drop back down the EFL Championship.