Pre-season Friendly, St James’ Park, KO: 6pm, Att: 16,187
United wrapped up their pre-season preparations with a draw against Portuguese outfit SC Braga at SJP in front of a respectable 16K crowd. ‘Bobby Robson Day’ had its inauguration and United wore special Black & White ‘halves’ in commemoration.
There were presentations made outside the SBR statue made by both teams and a minutes applause inside the ground before kick off.
Pre-season so far had been fairly underwhelming – as it always tends to be with us – so it was no surprise this game turned out to be as uninspiring as they come.
We lined up with Cabaye on the bench. A bit strange considering he’s had a withdrawn role in pre-season so far. Sissoko was played in midfield with Tiote and Jonas and HBA on the flanks with Shola and Cisse up top – 4 4 2. We started with Elliot who was later to be replaced by Krul and we had what I consider to be our best back four in the pitch with Colo partnering Yanga and the two full backs playing.
The game started in a lively manner with Collocini of all people firing just wide when he latched onto a Jonas cut back and his well-placed shot went inches wide. Cisse looked lively and Shola was involved in a lot. The only other meaningful United action came when Cisse was played through nicely by Sissoko. He checked and shot but their keeper got a good hand to it. The half meandered out without much happening apart from Braga knocking the ball about nicely.
Right on half time Braga attacked down their left and one of the players skinned Debuchy, ran past him and then fell over. Lee Mason who managed to be needlessly over the top all game gave the softest of pens which was rolled easily past Eliot for 1-0 at half time.
In the first half Debuchy looked promising going forwards and the two centre backs look good together. Sissoko impressed in a deeper role and Tiote gave the ball away a few times while also getting himself in more positive positions further up the pitch.
Half time saw introduction of Krul, Dummet and Cabaye and we increased our tempo a bit finally equalising of a corner which was beautifully delivered by HBA (not Cabaye!) and Colo powered home at the back post. It was good to see us score from a corner but Pardew stating that he was pleased as they’d been working on them is a bit off as Braga were marking ‘zonally’ and left our captain totally unmarked.
The rest of the game fizzled out with a couple of close moments for us which involved goal mouth scrambles and an offside goal from Goufran. Braga’s main chance came when Colo messed up a back pass and then brought down their man – most likely a red card in a competitive fixture but Mason showed a yellow as a red would have meant a competitive suspension.
Overall a pretty boring, slow paced pre-season friendly. I can’t imagine we’ve learnt anything. Jonas got injured on 52 minutes which will be a concern and it was good to see HBA nearly complete the 90. He and Debuchy pose a real attacking threat but defensively we may have problems down that side.
I’m interested to see what type of team we’ll have out in 2 weeks against West Ham – which already is a very big game for Pardew.
Enjoy the season.
Newcastle United: Rob Elliot (Tim Krul 46), Mathieu Debuchy (StevenTaylor 76), Davide Santon (Paul Dummett 46), Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Fabricio Coloccini, Chieck Tiote (Yohan Cabaye 46), Moussa Sissoko (Vurnon Anita 76), Papiss Cisse (Sylvain Marveaux 76), Shola Ameobi (Yoan Gouffran 64), Hatem Ben Arfa (Gabriel Obertan 87), Jonas Gutierrez (Sammy Ameobi 52). Sub n/u: Dan Gosling
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