Happy Easter I said to Abigail Davies on Friday, wishing her all the best for the chocolate season. “I don’t need Easter eggs, just three points from the game versus Newcastle”. Easy to please? Unlikely.
Swansea City were condemned to a third successive defeat on Friday afternoon due to a goal either side of the break from Cisse. Newcastle’s superior quality in the final third and their first-class clinical ability saw them run out 2-0 winners at The Liberty despite a dominant display from the home side.
The result keeps alive Newcastle’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League whilst Swansea’s third consecutive defeat raises further question marks about their cutting edge.
The timing of Newcastle’s opening goal did not help Swansea’s cause as it allowed the visitors to sit deep and absorb Swansea’s pressure. Seemingly content in the knowledge that they were to face large spells of the game without the ball, Newcastle showed great resilience and defended well when they needed to.
Although many may look at the stats and find it perplexing as to how Swansea were defeated given that they enjoyed almost 70% of possession, the difference was Newcastle’s ability to capitalise on their opportunities.
Despite Swansea making the brighter start and looking to assert their authority from the outset, Newcastle quickly demonstrated how they have found themselves fighting for a top four finish as January signing Cisse latched onto Cabaye’s through ball and found himself clear of Caulker and Williams in order to slot the ball past keeper Vorm with less than 5 minutes played.
Steven Caulker was undeniably the best Swansea player on the field against Newcastle. Single handedly trying to offer the urgency and ignite an exhilaration of pace that was otherwise lacking from the Swansea side. Making surging runs through the centre of the park, the defender posed the home sides biggest threat pushing forward, showing maturity beyond his years he offered versatility to Swansea’s approach. The majority of meaningful attacks came through the on loan centre back who continued to show his significance and importance to the Swansea side.
The visitors were looking far more incisive during their rare spells in possession as they broke with far more urgency and pace than their counterparts. As well as sparking many dangerous attacks, Caulker was proving pivotal at the back, making vital interceptions to deny further clear cut chances.
Pardew’s side acknowledged that they would not win a passing battle with the home side therefore bided their time and pounced on some poor positional play from Swansea.
Once more Angel Rangel failed to complete his defensive duties as Swansea were forced into sacrificing the attacking threat of Dyer and at times Sigurdsson, in order to compensate for Rangel’s poor positional play. The defender was constantly exposed at the back, not possessing sufficient pace to push forward as often as he did.
With all his goals for Swansea so far coming away from home, Sigurdsson came close to opening his Liberty account on a number of occasions in the first half as he tested Krul with sensationally well struck long range efforts.
Newcastle were taking full advantage of their early goal, as they played the majority of the game with two defensive rows of four, making it hard for Swansea to break through.
For all of Swansea’s possession, their lack of off the ball movement made it increasingly difficult for the home side to progress into dangerous areas of the pitch.
Swansea continued to dominate possession after the restart, however they appeared to be playing with far more penetration as they were working their way into the final third and looking far more likely to test Newcastle keeper Tim Krul.
Brendan Rodgers opted to make a double substitution 20 minutes into the second half as Graham and Sinclair were entered into the fray in place of Dyer and Moore.
The changes almost made an instant impact as Sinclair was presented with a chance to haul the home side back on level terms, however from a tight angle blasted the ball into the side of the net.
Newcastle’s advantage was doubled 20 minutes from time when Cisse demonstrated great skill in order to chip the ball over the top of Vorm, with perfect placement, the Senegal striker scored his 7th goal in 4 games.
Swansea City may feel deflated having dictated so much of the game, however their one dimensional approach and strive to produce ‘the perfect goal’ cost them once more.
Swansea next face a trip to Loftus Road where they will be hoping to get back to winning ways against relegation candidates QPR. For Wednesday’s fixture, I would be inclined to hand a start to Jazz Richards at right back as I feel he is far more solid a defender than Rangel despite not offering the same threat pushing forward.