Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reasonable Reaction Tuesday: Stoke City FC 2-1 Newcastle United FC Match Review

Living in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area of Texas, we are exposed to the phenomenon known as Over Reaction Monday. On a Monday in DFW if the Dallas Cowboys have won that weekend the radio pundits and fan callers will discuss at length the Playoff readiness of the team and give Super Bowl score predictions etc. If The Cowboys have Lost that weekend the fans and radio personalities cry out in rage calling for players to be benched and coaches to be sacked. We see similarity between the fan bases of the Dallas Cowboys and NUFC. Both sets are so passionately welled up with emotion about game day that it spills over, win or lose, into the next days' discussions, and it almost always results in over reaction. So, with that in mind, we offer a "day late" look at the past week's match, in hopes that the emotion will be tamed and we can give a Reasonable Reaction to the weekend's match.
Us too Hoots, us too.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Thanks to RKW for covering for me on the daily links while I was away at a conference. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow, when I can catch up. Watch for RKW's match review of the Stoke City match, coming very soon. Thanks to all of you for reading!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Match Preview: Newcastle Hosts The Potters

No, not THAT Potter.

I don't know about you, but I'm still high from Wednesday's victory. Sure, Chelsea played their scrubs, and sure, they got beat earlier today as well, but I still consider them one of the best teams in the world. I predicted a tie on the preview I wrote for this site, and deep down I knew that was probably wishful thinking. To beat them was beyond imaginable. The fact that Shola Ameobi was a key part of that victory was extra icing on the cake for me, since I sometimes feel alone in my support of him.

It is with some trepidation, then, that I look upon this game. Every single sign seems to point to a letdown game: The Magpies are sure to be bursting with confidence, and The Potters will surely be playing with the desperation that teams in the relegation zone often play with. Couple that with lineup uncertainty and our backup goalie receiving starts for the foreseeable future, and you've got the recipe for an upset at home - again.

Is it all doom and gloom? No, of course not. Stoke City is not a Premiership-caliber team. Stoke and Newcastle share two common opponents from this short season so far, and in both cases United's result was better. However, we all know that the transitive property doesn't work in sports, as anything can happen on any given Sunday, to borrow a phrase from American football. Stoke haven't scored more than 2 goals in a Premier League match all season, (on the flip side, they haven't let in more than 2 either) so this looks like a race to see who can score 2 first. The question in my mind is, Can Newcastle score two goals? With Krul in net (and for the record, I like him as a backup very much, but I'll be very happy when Harper is healthy), you can bank on Stoke putting one through. They've only been shut out once, and that was by Chelsea. I think The Toon is very capable of scoring two - where Stoke's defenders cause problems is with their size, and Andy Carroll should be able to counteract that well enough to put one home. It's also hard not to be excited about Hatem Ben Arfa. Will his creativity shine through again? Can Tiote be a catalyzing force again? If they are, they'll have no problem putting that second game-deciding goal home. NUFC win, 2-1.

As far as the lineup is concerned, I think you have to look at two patterns that are beginning to develop: (1) Chris Hughton is more than willing to play the hot hand and keep the same lineup that has worked for him before. Even when he had the choice of putting new acquisitions in against Wolverhampton, he stuck with the squad that had done him well the week before. (2) Almost none of the Starting XI from the Everton match played on Wednesday. This bodes well for their chances to play again today. My predicted XI is the same as last week, with the obvious exception of James Perch who must serve his suspension for bookings. EDIT: Apparently I don't understand this insane rule. I'll keep the same lineup here for posterity.

Krul, Ryan Taylor, Coloccini, Williamson, Jose Enrique, Routledge, Tiote, Barton, Ben Arfa, Nolan, Carroll

Friday, September 24, 2010

Match Review: Chelsea FC 3-4 Newcastle United FC

Your NUFC went into Stamford Bridge and after six minutes what everyone had predicted would come to pass seemed to start coming true. This years run at the Carling would be over for the Magpies, and hey, no big deal the Premiership points are what we're after in the first place. Chris Hughton had made 10 changes to the Newcastle side that won against Everton, it looked like concession, but he insisted this team was looking for a win. After only six minutes it was looking even more like concession. The Chelsea side wasn't a first team by any means, but Anelka, Ramires, Ferreira, Alex and Terry were there, wait didn't we just say it wasn't the starters? Well, we were half correct. At any rate, after six minutes it seemed like the Chelsea half squad would do exactly what everyone thought they would. But, then, somewhere in the teen minutes something changed. Passes started crisping up, build ups started actually building up, the defense solidified, and at Twenty and Seven minutes, Shane Ferguson put in a cross that looked intended for Peter Lovenkrands. It cleared just inches above his head and was headed out of play, but for the streaking and sliding Nile Ranger, who struck true on the back post side. The last time that happened at Stamford Bridge in competition was March 27, 2010.

Nile Ranger- “The best possible way to reply was to score, so I was pleased to stick it in the net.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chelsea vs. Newcastle: A League Cup Preview

Let me start by saying this: I care about the League Cup. Probably more than you do, if the things I have been reading out there in the blogosphere and on Twitter are any indication. The prevailing attitude seems to be that since Newcastle are back in the Premiership, their sole focus ought to be staying up. This is certainly not a goal to be taken lightly, and I can certainly appreciate the supporters who place the Premiership on a pedestal above all other competitions. After all, this fanbase is one that knows all too well the consequences of not taking care of business for just one season.

However, I just cannot shake the notion that any game played in-season is somehow less important than another. No, the match played tomorrow will not affect the top flight table one bit - but you have to understand that confidence and form are not things to be trifled with. Even at the professional level, much of this game is played between the ears, and there have been many teams in the past that have believed that they can turn their form on and off at will, much to their peril. Teams that abuse this practice of picking and choosing which games to get up for typically do not succeed at the very highest level.

Now, does this mean that I think Chris Hughton should play every single one of Saturday's Starting XI tomorrow? No. But I don't buy for one second the idea that the supporters should somehow treat this match any differently. Here we are, on the eve of playing arguably the best club team in Europe right now, and yes, they may play several scrubs, but this match should be something to look forward to. Instead, the feeling among the fanbase is an overwhelming ho-hum, "I don't care if we win, just want them to show well"...and that's a shame. Do you realize that this team has never in its history won the League Cup? I want that to change. Don't you?

This is a good team, in my opinion. They're currently tied for 6th in the table. Imagine for just a second that they were able to stay in that approximate position for the balance of the season, and with some strokes of luck they end in one of the Top 4 places, just one season removed from relegation. That would be quite an accomplishment! But then what? We'd get to next season and there would be a ton of bellyaching about having to play extra matches in Europe. To me, this is the exact wrong attitude. Yes, placing well in the table is important, but at the end of the day, I want to see our lads on the right side of the score line, regardless of which competition they're playing in.

You mean to say you don't want this?

Ok...having said all that, there is a match tomorrow, like it or not. Who should Hughton play? In defense, I like Sol in for Williamson, who has played way too loose for my tastes the last couple of weeks, with Perch playing since he'll be sitting on Saturday anyway. I also put Jose Enrique in so he can continue to develop chemistry with Tiote and Ben Arfa. I leave the midfield alone for the most part, with Routledge and Jonas using this match as a chance for redemption in Hughton's eyes. Hatem Ben Arfa gets more PT at the high level, and Nile Ranger, who has been campaigning for a starting spot this week, in place of Andy Carroll, who is reportedly not 100% (and sure didn't play that way in Goodison Park).


This, I believe, should satisfy those who don't want to risk injury to key players while also not giving up on the match from the get-go.

I expect Chelsea to play mostly subs, and I expect them to still come away with a comfortable victory, perhaps 3-1. One thing's for sure - if they lose, I'll take it just as hard as if they lost to Stoke on Saturday. So sue me.

CHN Links: Tuesday's Gone With the Wind

Good morning, Toon Army. Are you ready for the Chelskis? We sure are. From the quotes trickling in we think the club is ready too. We've got a bit of ground to cover what with this Shay Given mess and the upcoming cup game. So, let's jump right in, after the jump that is.

It's Carling Cup this week, Hughton has promised a strong squad, and we have high hopes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

CHN Links: Monday, Monday, So Good To Me

Goedemorgen, Toon Leger! We're speaking Dutch today to reaffirm young Tim Krul that even if NUFC manages to convince the PL of an emergency loan for Shay Given (which shouldn't prove difficult), we think he should be our man and Given can sit second. Also we look at injuries, reactions from Saturday's joga bonito match, and get into the Carling Cup match with Chelsea, FC all that and more post jump.

We're ready to welcome back Given, but he'll need to ride some pine to make us happy.

Playing With Chalkboards: NUFC at Everton FC

Each week we devote a bit of time to tactical review of the previous week's game. This week it falls to me and I attempt to take a dig at my compatriot, who disagreed with me a bit on my opinion on one Alan Smith, and how he hasn't done much this season. I'll admit up front that the comparison I'm about to make may be unfair, and I also admit that I have the benefit of continuing my argument with the hindsight bonus, but Cheik Tiote did replace Smith on the starting squad so allow me to submit the following:

by Guardian Chalkboards
Now before I expound, I anticipate the following arguement: Yeah but that Blackpool game was Smith's worst. So here is the passing graph from the Wolves Game:

by Guardian Chalkboards

Tiote's activity as we can measure it with these tools is just plain superior to Smith. Cheik is value in volume, Alan seems to watch the game pass him by, and spend his time not making any mistakes. Mistake free is good but we'll need higher class than that to make sure the Premiership is our home come next year. What say you now, Robert?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

CHN Links: Sunday Edition

Good morning Toon Army. A day removed from an very rewarding game-day and the smell is still just as sweet. We predicted the 2-2 tie, but did say that we thought it wasn't out of the realm of possibility for the lads to steal away all three points. Nothing makes up for a loss you should have won like a win you should have lost, and away to boot! Make the jump for today's links.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Match Review: Everton FC 0-1 Newcastle United FC

Goal: Ben Arfa 45'
Bookings: Perch 59', Enrique 67', Nolan 69'
Substitutions: Krul for Harper 35', Gutierrez for Ben Arfa 84'
CHN Man of the Match: Ben Arfa

Not many people thought that the Toon would go into Goodison Park and snatch away a victory, though you can't really blame anybody for being skeptical following last week's abomination. Not only did Newcastle win, they were dominant in this game, save for a few stretches where The Toffees showed a little bit of life.

CHN Links: Gameday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Let's beat the Toffees today.


Friday, September 17, 2010

CHN Links: Friday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. It wouldn't be Friday if there weren't speculation about selection. That and more after the jump.

Whoever thought this was a good idea should be sacked.

Match Preview: On the Road at Goodison Park

The Toon will travel to take on The Toffees tomorrow. With the 2500 allocated seats all sold will our lads be able to steal away their first away win? Will Hoots do what he has alluded to and put the same starting eleven on the pitch again? Discuss it with us after the jump.

When The Grand Old Lady plays host, will Newcastle be able to earn points?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CHN Links: Thursday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Be sure to look for our tactical review of the Blackpool match coming within the next two days.

Will one of these three crack the Starting XI this week?

Cheik Tiote says that Didier Drogba convinced him to join The Toon, according to the NUFC Official Site. He also says he is becoming fast friends with Hatem Ben Arfa. It's a pretty decent interview, so check it out.

James Perch told Steph Clark of The Northern Echo that he's not worried about a possible ban for too many yellow cards, saying that he will not hold back against The Toffees. He has to say this; is he supposed to say that he'll be tentative? You have to wonder if this will be in the back of his mind. This is why terrible officiating like that exhibited in Wolverhampton is not acceptable - it affects matches down the road as well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CHN Links: Wednesday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Today is a slow news day as many of the outlets are very focused on covering the goings-on of the Champions League from yesterday. Still, there a few things worthy of your attention, and you'll find them after the jump.

What an ugly ball.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CHN Links: Tuesday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Today is that weird day where we're still looking back while also looking forward.

The memory is starting to fade...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Match Review: Newcastle United FC 0-2 Blackpool FC

We think it's safe to say that the lads disappointed us all on Saturday. Even the most conservative guesses had the lads winning 2-1. But, it was not to be, and Blackpool made sure of that with organized defense and excellent goal tending.

Though Harper was good and The Toon had their chances, the unbeaten streak came to an end, and we take one more cheep shot.

CHN Links: Monday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. That loss still hurts. Let's hope for a better result this week. Lots of match reports and a bit of news after the jump.

Steve Harper kept this thing from getting totally out of hand.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

CHN Links: Gameday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Let's beat the Seasiders! Match previews and more after the jump.

Can the lads stay unbeaten at St. James?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Match Preview: Seasiders Come to St. James

Our compatriots in promotion will be in Toon Saturday with their Dreamsicle digs and their near identical start to the season. Full preview after the jump.

The Dreamsicles are on their way, but we aren't worried

CHN Links: Friday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. We get the Seasiders tomorrow. Who will Hughton select? Where can you find some previews of this weekend's match? That info and more after the jump.

Found this photo with the caption "Newcastle Joy" on a random blog.

The previews for tomorrow's match are starting to pour in, and will likely do so all day. Here are two that are already up: One from Andy Hodgson of Talk of the Tyne and one from Ed Harrison. Make sure watch for our preview coming later today.

Sky Sports is reporting that Chris Hughton is not overlooking Blackpool. Within the article is a brief discussion of Hughton's selection dilemma, which we discussed ourselves yesterday. Hughton also told Lee Ryder of The Chronicle that he expects the home crowd to outshout the visitors. In a separate article, Ryder tells of an interview Hughton gave about selection. Hughton told Chris Burton of Sky Sports that Sol Campbell is "certainly available to play," and mentions that Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote are both candidates to be selected as well. Tiote will wear #24, which is of course Andy Carroll's old number.

Yesterday was "World Shola Day," as it marked his 10th year with the club. Toonsy takes some time to give him some props.

Peter Lovenkrands was caught speeding, but he will not lose his license.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Selection Question: A Conversation

Since Selection has been a hot topic recently with the addition of some new players, RKW and I decided to sit down and talk about what the best course of action might be. Tell us in the comments what you think about what your Starting XI would look like.

Robert: So we've already set the stage in previous posts: Hughton has brought in several players, but the ones we already had have been doing some good work on their one. Obviously James Perch is somebody that was added early in the transfer window and has been contributing already, but what about these other guys who have never put on a Newcastle jersey before? Where do you put them? Who do you sit so they'll have room to play?

RKW: Well I guess the easiest way to approach the topic is to start with a Starting XI. As it is right now I think our best 11 on the field looks like this:
|---------------------------------Big Andy-----------------------------------|

I realize this leaves us without a Defensive Midfielder, but I think you have to see if Barton and Nolan can do the work without getting in too much card trouble.

Robert: I think your omission of a defensive midfielder is interesting, but let's get to that in a second. Right now I see that HBA is the only new guy to crack your Starting XI, and you've bumped Nolan back. Is this more a result of what you think HBA can do, or a referendum on Nolan's work in his current position?

RKW: Well, everyone has been so good it's hard to pick on performance. So it's really more of where I think the great skill set of HBA can be best worked into our system. As he said recently, he wants to be the guy supplying ammunition to Andy. I like that idea very much, and I think he can do more in the middle than out on the right.

Robert: What do you think of this idea of sitting Barton since he already has several cards, and going from there once you've seen what you've got in these new players?

RKW: I like the fact that we have enough flexibility to have a quick replacement for Joey when he does serve his suspensions, and believe me he will. But, I don't like the idea of benching him like you would a basketball player in foul trouble. He's played so well and seems to have adjusted his attitude to avoid the outburst problems of the past, and I don't want to give him any reason to think we aren't 100% behind the new and improved Joey Barton - well, except for the mustache, we were glad to see that go.

Robert: No doubt. I've been thinking about this a lot, and I think I agree with you. If Joey were to sit now, it would almost be as if Hughton were doubling his suspension, since we seem to be in agreement that he will reach that suspension threshold. Might as well get some games from him while we can. What I'm struggling with the most is that I don't think he should sit, but really, who should? If you move Alan Smith out, you lose that defensive presence that you need in midfield as a result of Jose Enrique and Joey Barton (and occasionally even James Perch) creeping up toward the goal. Tiote is a defensive midfielder as well, but I see him more as a guy who can spell Smith when he needs it, rather than as a pure replacement. You can't replace your captain, so as much as it pains me to say it, maybe Routledge is the guy who needs to take a seat to make room for HBA. What do you think about that?

RKW: I see the whole midfield as a liquid entity. I think you go all offense now, but it's really an experiment, isn't it? If Barton and Nolan can't defend well enough or we see Barton getting carded for ticky tack stuff, we'll have to reevaluate. I see Tiote/Smith as a switch out based on the needs of the game. If you need that physicality that Tiote is said to bring then you go with him, but if you need the pace and crafty-ness of Smith you go with him. As long as Routledge keeps playing like he is I can't see him being on the bench. But if he does have a rough spell, Barton can play out there, then you can get that defensive MF back in the game. I guess my point is you have to at leas try out the all offensive MF since our back 4 have been playing so strong.

Robert: Speaking of the Back 4, do you think Campbell should get some playing time this Saturday? I think I'd like to see him come in as a late replacement, and for whom would obviously depend on the game situation. What are your thoughts?

RKW: I don't give him the starting job yet, not with Colo and Williamson playing so well, but I would like to see him in relief of someone. He's fit and I think that means he should get some time. If everything goes right on Saturday I think we could end up seeing every one of our new players, at least all the uninjured.

Robert: I was thinking the same thing, though I would be prepared not to see one of them since Andy Carroll may need a sub. I'd like to see him play 70 or so minutes, and in a perfect world, we'd have a comfortable lead at that point and can put Shola or Lovenkraands in there to play out the rest of the game. With that in mind, here's my Starting XI:


As I said, Shola or Peter would be ready to come in for Carroll, with Routledge also coming off the bench to replace HBA if it looks like the offensive chemistry is lacking. Tiote could come in for Smith, or Campbell could replace one of the defenders if their form is off. Obviously you want to be flexible with your subs, but I like trying to keep as much chemistry going as possible and I think this would accomplish that. Anything to add?

RKW: Well, we agree on the 4-4-1-1.

Robert: Yes, I would think that Hughton would want to keep the shape that has worked so far.

RKW: Routledge has been soooo good though. Ugh, this is a problem every manager wants to have. If I really think hard about what I believe Hoots will actually do, I think he'll stay with the starting 11 that have been so good over the first 3 games, and take a look at the new guys if and when we get the game under control.

Robert: I certainly wouldn't fault him for it. Sometimes you have to rely on the people that have gotten you where you are. If that were to happen, I would hope that the supporters would demonstrate some patience. It's really tempting to get out those shiny new toys and see what they can do, but if the same XI is going to be effective, I see no reason to change a winning formula.

RKW: Yeah, I'm right there with you, but I do think that if The Toon Army doesn't get to see Hatem Ben Arfa at St. James on Saturday there might be a riot. The game is almost sold out save for 700 seats the Seasiders can't move, and you have to think those folks want to see some of that flashy midfield work that has HBA all over the Youtube Highlight Video.

Robert: Very true. I have to believe, though, that winning will go a long way toward quelling any sort of personnel protests. The bottom line is that if the result is right, we'll all be singing Hughton's praises on Sunday, no matter who he puts out there.

RKW: Agreed, 3 points will buy our patience. I really do think Hoots will send the same 11 out there, and I really do think that that 11 will be up 2-0 at the half. That will give us the whole second half to see the stylings of HBA.

Howay the Lads!

CHN Links: Thursday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Is Andy Carroll being rushed back from injury too soon? Will Sol Campbell play on Saturday? What about that book where the guy points the finger at all the other guys? Find out after the jump.

How I feel during the International Break. Hurry up, Saturday.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

CHN Links: Wednesday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Lots of stuff to get to today, including news about the availability of some players on Saturday, after the jump.

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tactical Match Review: Week 3

Going forward, we will be publishing two match reviews each week: one pretty soon after the match that will mostly concentrate on the story, and one at mid-week that will mostly concentrate on tactics. Since we had a two week break, we held the first mid-week review until today. We of course solicit your suggestions on how to improve this and other features here at CHN.

Going into this week's match against the Wolves, Chris Hughton didn't have very many decisions to make. His squad had just gotten done thrashing Aston Villa 6-0, so there was little question that he would trot out the same Starting XI and the same formation.

In the 4-4-1-1, funneling crosses into the middle is key. You won't see the Magpies take very many shots from strange angles, and this week was no exception. Nearly all of the 13 shots taken were close-range shots from the middle of the box created by long-range crosses from the outside. Unfortunately, the only ones getting through were coming from the right side, as Jonas Gutierrez and Jose Enrique were completely shut down on the left by Kevin Foley and Jody Craddock. Wayne Routledge, on the other hand, was extremely dangerous. His pace was troubling to the Wolf midfield and defense, and he came very close to connecting with Kevin Nolan twice. Routledge and Nolan were supported by Joey Barton who overcame several malicious challenges to be an offensive threat as well. Also supporting effectively was James Perch, who himself swung an effective cross to Andy Carroll that he was unable to get a good touch on. Carroll was a bit of an enigma. His goal on the Barton set piece made up for his egregious miss toward the end of the first half, but one can't help but wonder if it should have been a final of 2-1.

Defensively, The Toon were solid once again, save for the one lapse that led to Sylvain Ebanks-Blake's spectacular goal. There's not much to say about Steve Harper; the only shot that Wolverhampton got on target was the aforementioned goal, and there's not much you could have expected Harper to do in that situation. Perch did his best to play the ball, but with a striker to his right you can understand his hesitancy to get in front of the shot. It does seem that Mike Williamson might have been a tad bit out of position, but I think you can chalk the goal up to Ebanks-Blake simply exploiting a small gap. Aside from that momentary lapse, the only other moment that seems to stand out is the Perch tackle in the box that wasn't called. It was a risky move that paid off, but it wasn't necessary and he would do well to avoid dependence on the referee's generosity in the future. It should be mentioned that Alan Smith did well in support. He won several 50-50 balls and made key tackles down the stretch.

Passing Triangles

My Man of the Match: #7 Joey Barton
Best Passing Percentage: #10 Wayne Routledge (32/34)
Best Shooting Percentage: #4 Kevin Nolan (3/4)
Most Interceptions: #17 Alan Smith (4)
Most Successful Tackles: #6 Mike Williamson (7)

Non-League Day Match Review: FC Dallas vs Toronto FC

Well we had hoped for a better showing from the Toros than we got on Saturday, but after the first half had us worried that we would end up in a 0-0 tie, and we don't mean one of those really good matches that ends 0-0. All parties looked sloppy from the start, passing was poor, tackles were lazy, and the officiating was horrendous.

Our Non-League Day local match in Frisco, Texas

The big takeaway of this match will be that the one goal scored in the game came off the foot of Jeff Cunningham, which brought his career total to 129, now just 3 shy of Jamie Moreno's MLS record. But, we would say that there were a few other headlines worth a look.

This was the first MLS game that we'd ever had the mind to take in, and I have to say at the end of the first half I was feeling pretty disappointed in the skill level of these professional athletes. Moreover, my compatriot mentioned specifically their lack of patience. By 15 minutes gone both sides had completely abandoned their game-plans in favor of hopeful and long forward passing, overly rushed shooting, and a melange of other nit-picky crud.

We also noticed that our predicted Man of the Match, Brek Shea, was in top form, but was continually frustrated by teammates whom, at best made poor passes to the lad, and at worst looked him over completely. We counted 12 smart runs he was on that his side was unable or unwilling to put the ball to him for. It left us wondering if there wasn't some locker room justice going on out on the pitch. There were at least 3 egregiously bad plays in which Shea was the obvious best choice the pass that went instead to another. We couldn't puzzle it out and in the last 20 minutes it seemed to be really getting to the kid.

We mentioned the horrible officiating and it was bad from start to finish. The cards all seemed deserved, but there seemed to be an inordinate amount of "no-calls" when a call should have been made, and a bit of whistle swallowing when there were obvious fouls. This included a ridiculously disallowed Eric Alexander goal. Off of a Brek Shea shot that keeper Stefan Frei didn't handle cleanly, but was still hovering over, Alexander booted it in right out from under him. The ref blew it dead and we were aghast. There was no illegal contact and no foul play; it was as if the keeper had a right to all the turf in a 3 foot radius and in that space the ball was unplayable. The shabby show continued a few minutes later with an utter mugging of Ruben Luna, who was in on goal late in the second half. It was the type of call that you could see perhaps not being called in the opening minutes, but it was a very hard tackle and it seemed the defender didn't even try to play the ball.

All in all a disappointing match, but not so disappointing that we won't be out at Dr. Pepper Pizza Hut Park again. It was an FC Dallas win and it extended their unbeaten streak, and moved them into a second place tie in the Western Conference, which is great news for their playoff bid.

FC Dallas Lineup: Kevin Hartman, Heath Pearce, George John (Bruno Guarda 54), Zach Loyd, Jair Benitez-Carded: 91, Marvin Chavez (Eric Avila 69), Eric Alexander, Jackson Goncalves, Brek Shea, Jeff Cunningham (Ruben Luna 82), David Ferreira

Toronto FC Lineup: Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Adrian Cann, Ty Harden, Nick Garcia, Maksim Usanov, Nick LaBrocca-Carded: 46, Joseph Nane (Jacob Peterson 58), Martin Saric-Carded: 15,89,89, Mista, O'Brian White

CHN Links: Tuesday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. For whatever reason, the vast majority of this morning's stories have to do with the back line. 4 more days until match day!

Kevin Nolan scores against Blackpool on April 12, 2010.

Monday, September 6, 2010

CHN Links: Monday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. 5 more days until the Blackpool match. Today's links are after the jump.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

CHN Links: Sunday Edition

Good morning, Toon Army. Hope you enjoyed Non-League Day as much as we did. Today's links are after the jump.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Links

Happy Saturday! Don't forget that today is Non-League Day. Go support your local team!

Today's links after the jump.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Non-League Day, We Take in a Local Game: FC Dallas vs. Toronto FC

With no Premiership this weekend, and in the spirit of this challenge Coming Home Newcastle will be at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas in support of our local MLS team, FC Dallas. Toronto FC comes to town for the pair's second match of the season; in July, The Toros were able to force a tie at BMO field in Toronto. At least one team comes into Saturday's match looking fit; FCD hasn't lost a game since late May, but TFC are coming off a CONCACAF loss preceded by a league loss.

FCD vs TFC this Saturday, Take in a local match during the Prem. break

We'll be honest, it's hard to expect much out of this one as TFC has a few out to the Canadian National team. FCD has a couple missing too, but we expect their depth to be able to handle the depleted Toronto side at home without much issue. Ferreira will still be around to make sure things go as planned and Brek Shea should be able to do as he pleases in the Toronto Midfield. So even with Hernandez and Harris out on suspension, we feel confident on The Red Stripes chances to extend that unbeaten streak to 13.

Prediction: FC Dallas 3-1 Toronto FC

On the TV:

Fox Sports Southwest or FSDallas, MLS Direct Kick with DirectTV

Friday Links

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Let's get to the links...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday Links

Good morning! Let's dive right in.

The transfer window reviews are still coming in. Scott Wilson of The Northern Echo quotes Chris Hughton as saying that he's content with a quiet Deadline Day. Miles Starforth of Jarrow & Hebburn Gazette praises the moves that were made. His headline is about Mike Ashley, but really the article is about Hughton. Hughton was complimentary of Ashley's financial backing; however, what stands out about these transfers to me are the quality of players received for relatively little money. Starforth also notes that Ben Arfa, Tiote, and Campbell will all be ready to face Blackpool on September 11.

Speaking of Mr. Campbell, he told BBC that he is indeed targeting September 11 for first team action. I have to believe that he'll be on a short leash if he does get the start. Also, I saw several stories (here is one example) that expressed surprise that he would make the roster. Of course his level of fitness has been widely questioned, but I never thought his standing with the team would be in jeopardy. Before today, I hadn't stopped and done all of the math, but ultimately we only had 23 players that needed to be listed anyway, so why would anybody be left out? It makes me feel silly that I ever entertained the idea that Steven Taylor might not make the cut.

Alana Coates of The Montreal Gazette is apparently very impressed with HBA, and not convinced at all that the rest of the squad is anything special. I like HBA. HBA will not be the face of this team.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

25 Man Squad Named

According to Sportinglife.com, NUFC have named their 25. If you're confused about the rules, read up about them here.

The squad:

Sol Campbell
Steven Taylor
Shola Ameobi
Joey Barton
Danny Guthrie
Peter Lovenkrands
Jose Enrique
Alan Smith
Leon Best
Fabricio Coloccini
Jonas Gutierrez
Steve Harper
Kevin Nolan
Wayne Routledge
Danny Simpson
Ryan Taylor
Mike Williamson
Fraser Forster
Tim Krul
James Perch
Cheik Tiote
Hatem ben Arfa

Notice that Steven Taylor DID make the list. I think this is a good thing - we'll surely need him at some point before January.

Magpie Reserves Mow Down Mackems

SAFC Reserves 1-3 NUFC Reserves was the final line at the Stadium of Blight, but it hardly told the story of a tie that saw the Toon Reservists up two goals after just ten minutes of play.

Lots to Celebrate for Nile and McLoven as they leave the pitch.

The first tally came in the 8th minute when Peter Lovenkrands sped behind a flatfooted defense and passed across goal for Nile Ranger who, with a bit of work left to do, put the ball neatly to bed in the far corner.

Less than two minutes later Nile Ranger would return the favor in a way. Sprung free into the box, his attempt to play around the oncoming keeper Trevor Carson was thwarted, but Trevor simply didn't play the ball and the penalty shot was given. Lovenkrands hammered home from the spot and it looked as though it would be smooth sailing for the Toon.

In fact, they did ride those two goals into halftime, but not without seeing Xisco Red Carded for aparently flicking his leg out at SAFC's Jordan Cook. Match reporter Dan King called the straight red, "harsh, even if Xisco should have known better," citing little to no contact in the scuffle.

Coming out of the half the side still looked fit even a man down and at 58 minutes the cushion would get a bit fluffier after Carson picked up a back pass from a Sunderland back. Before the defense could organize Lovenkrands snatched up the ball and bumped it quickly over to the waiting boot of Ryan Taylor, who layed it in from less than ten yards.

The Magpies continued to coast on their heavy lead until Jordan Cook put in a penalty shot that came when Matthew Grieve went down in the box under the heavy defesnse of Jack Colbeck. But, it was too little too late in the 84th minute, and the Toon would celebrate victory just minutes later.
A few takeaways:
  • Sol Campbell played the first 45 and looked fit, thoug he admitidly didn't get much work as the Newcastle Reserves were clearly the class of the match.
  • Though the Mackems will probably cite the starting of first teamers, Lovenkrands, Taylor, and Ranger, as the main catylysts in their demise, we need only remind them that they had first teamers on the pitch as well in, George Mcartney and Andy Reid, as well as newly signed Marco Angeleri
  • Xisco will miss 3 first team games for the Red Card: Blackpool, Everton and the League Cup match at Chealsea.

NUFC: Tim Krul, James Tavernier, Paul Dummett, Ryan Donaldson (Phil Airey, 81), Sol Campbell (Ben Tozer, 45), Matthew Grieve, Ryan Taylor, Brad Inman, Nile Ranger, Xisco, Peter Lovenkrands (Greg McDermott, 81)
Unused Subs: Ole Soderberg, Jeff Henderson

SAFC: Trevor Carson, Marcos Angeleri (Matthew Fletcher, 72), Blair Adams, Adam Reed, Michael Kay, George McCartney, Robbie Weir (Nathan Luscombe, 62), Jack Colbeck, Ryan Noble, Jordan Cook, Andy Reid (Liam Bagnall, 81)
Unused Subs: Ben Wilson, Dan Madden

Howay the Lads!

Wednesday Links

Well, the transfer window is closed, so let's move on to other, more substantial, things.

First, some reviews on the job Chris Hughton and Mike Ashley did this summer, from Mike Jones of Talk of the Tyne, toonsy, and Ed. Paul Bestall of EPL Talk gives us some thoughts on Deadline Day.

Scott Wilson of The Northern Echo chronicles Hatem Ben Arfa's journey to Newcastle. Actual quote from HBA: "I considered stopping playing football." I cannot shake the idea that if he ends up making 25 appearances, making the deal a purchase, that he could do this same song and dance with us if one of the Big 4 were to come calling. Make no mistake, I'm glad he's on board, but I'll probably always have a paranoia about him holding the team hostage.

Sol Campbell played 45 minutes for the reserve squad yesterday, and The Daily Mail was there to take pictures. This won't do anything to silence those who would criticize his physique. Ben Collins of Sky Sports noted that Campbell has been stepping up his fitness regimen. Campbell is quoted as saying that he'll play 60-70 minutes in the next reserve squad match, which should take place during the international break.

Speaking of internationals, Andy Carroll will not be representing the U-21 squad at the Euro 2012 qualifiers because of an ankle injury. Shola Ameobi will not be representing Scotland...because he's not eligible to do so. Silly Craig Levein.