Christmas shopping? Not on your nelly…Abi Davies boarded the Swansea fun bus and headed as far north as you can in the Premier League with a visit to the St James, errr Sports Direct Arena.
Swansea City made the long journey North on Saturday in the midst of a busy Christmas period looking to capitalise on Newcastle’s current poor form which sees them without a win in their last 4 fixtures, in order to record their first away victory of the campaign.
Alan Pardew’s much depleted back line has left him with little resources at his disposal over recent weeks so it would have come as much relief that he had both Coloccini and Williamson back to bolster Newcastle’s defence.
Swansea had Joe Allen available again after the midfielder sat out last weekend’s victory over Fulham due to a one match suspension. He returned to the starting line up in place of Luke Moore who may have felt aggrieved to have to settle for a place amongst the substitutes given the magnitude of his performances in Swansea’s last two fixtures.
The only other change made by Brendan Rodgers saw Danny Graham restored to the starting XI to make his 250th career league appearance in place of Leroy Lita who has also delivered outstanding performances of late, looking hungry and eager in front of goal.
The home side got the game under way and were the quicker to settle into their rhythm. Within the opening 25 minutes both Coloccini and Ba came close to opening the scoring as they both saw their efforts denied only by the woodwork.
Swansea were rarely out of their own half in the first 45 as Alan Pardew’s side allowed them little time in possession, applying a continual onslaught of pressure on the Welsh side.
Gabriel Obertan offered one of Newcastle’s biggest threats, enjoying much success down the right flank in the opening half, the French midfielder was given far too much time on the ball as he caused mass problems for full back Neil Taylor.
Regarded by many as the best keeper in the Premier League as well as the signing of the summer, Michel Vorm yet again displayed why he is receiving such accolades with numerous great saves keeping the scores level. The Dutch international pulled off a superb reaction save to deny a great Ba volley 3 minutes before half time.
Going in at the interval, Brendan Rodgers men may have wondered how they were still on level terms having endured a half of constant pressure from Newcastle. However Swansea’s unity and collective defensive display was prominent once more as they impressively worked together to frustrate and keep out the Magpies.
Swansea regrouped and came out of the blocks the brighter in the second half. With Kemy Agustien replacing Mark Gower, the Swans offered a larger physical presence in midfield.
Making a start in vast contrast to that of the first half, the Swans took complete control of the game after the break.
Swansea’s dominance was evidently frustrating the home side as they began to play a few misplaced passes and attempt a number of overly ambitious shots.
Routledge, Graham and Allen combined well throughout the second half, with intricate passing movements and great vision allowing them to work their way into great areas of the pitch. However all movements broke down inside the box as the Swans failed to work keeper Krul.
The visitors best chance to break the deadlock came in the 74th minute when Wayne Routledge found Scott Sinclair free on the far post, however the winger who had failed to impose himself on the game up until now, almost had too much time to think about the shot and in the end was only able to hit the side netting.
Swansea had another great opportunity to take the lead when Wayne Routledge drilled a dangerous ball across the face of goal, however it was played just ahead of the on running Joe Allen.
More second half heroics from Vorm along with some last ditch defending from the Welsh side saw them record their 8th clean sheet of the season, however a first Premier League win away from home still evades them. The goalless draw means the Magpies have now gone 5 games without a victory.
Having been drafted into the first team to replace the injured Angel Rangel, 19 year old Jazz Richards has settled into the demanding challenge well over recent weeks and I thought he along with the rest of our defensive line performed superbly at St James’ Park. However I do still feel that we are missing the presence of Catalan right back Rangel offensively as he so often provides support and combines well with our wingers to add to our attack force.
For me, Joe Allen was yet again the stand out performer for Swansea. Winning many of the 50/50 balls in the middle of the park as well as being at the heart of the majority of our creative and attacking movements. His work ethic was prolific once more.