Here’s the game as we saw it – as it happened.
The lads came out with their black tops on and with the words on the back – Ryan Taylor Over The Top – as a nice gesture to Ryan Taylor, who looks like he’ll be out for up to six months with his ACL knee injury.
Newcastle got a fantastic reception from the St. James’ Park crowd in warm weather and bright sunshine in Newcastle – what!
It was fairly even in the first 15 minutes or so with Newcastle starting to pass the ball around well, with the defense looking solid enough in the first few minutes of the game.
Then after 15 minutes Santon took the ball into the penalty area and simply fell down when challenged, but in no way was that a penalty – unfortunately.
The Newcastle crowd has certainly turned up today, and they made themselves heard loud and clear, and my brother Rod was there somewhere – but just couldn’t pick him out. 😀
After 19 minutes it was Tim Krul who saved Newcastle, with a good save from a Darren Bent point blank shot, and Darren had an open goal to shoot at, and then Coloccini cleared well for a corner from the rebound, that was close.
Bent then broke well down the left wing, but Tim Krul saved his shot well, at the second attempt.
And then after 22 minutes Aston Villa went ahead when Ciaran Clark headed home unmarked from just six yards out, from a good left wing cross from Bannan.
It was poor defending from Newcastle and certainly Alan Pardew will wonder what his defenders were doing. After 25 minutes a free kick into the Villa box was headed just over by Steven Taylor, but he didn’t know too much about it.
Then good play by Demba Ba gave Cisse a sharp chance, but the goalkeeper somehow blocked the shot for a corner – Cisse should have buried that one.
Then after 37 minutes Danny Simpson went off with a hamstring injury, and 18 year-old Gael Bigirimana came on for his Premier League debut in central midfield, and Vurnon Anita went to right back.
This was the second player we had lost with injury in successive games, with Ryan Taylor out for up to six months with a serious knee injury – our squad is already being stretched it seems.
Then just before half time Cisse had a decent chance but the ball was just too high for him and he headed the ball wide.
Half time came with the score still 1-0 and Newcastle will have a lot of work to do in the second half, as Aston Villa more than held their own in the first half of this game, and again our front two strikers of Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba have not looked anywhere near as sharp as last season.
There were no changes made at half time, but Alan Pardew will need to change it around a bit if we are as poor up front in the second half, as the lads looked in that first half, we need more bite – where’s Adam Campbell?
Newcastle were far too flat in that first half, and we need to show a lot more urgency if we are to get back into this game, but it was Aston Villa who remained on the front foot at the start of the second half.
After 50 minutes goalkeeper Guzan, who was having a good game in place of the dropped Shay Given, was first to a long cross into the box with Demba Ba challenging, and the American was looking very safe.
On 53 minutes Vurnon Anita got in a decent cross from the right wing, and it was Ben Arfa whio headed it, but Guzan collected the ball just beneath the cross-bar.
Aston Villa were playing well and seemed more than a match for Newcastle, as our lads seemed to still be struggling, and were still flat in the second half.
A quick Villa breakaway after 58 minutes saw Stephen Ireland hit the ball straight at goalkeeper Tim Krul, who saved well.
And then Newcastle equalized after 59 minutes – and what a simply fantastic goal it was from Ben Arfa – who from 25 yards out and with the ball on his right hand side rifled the ball home with his right foot – what a player this lad is – and just what Newcastle needed in this game – a goal out of absolutely nothing and the Frenchman gave Guzan no chance at all.
It was almost against the run of play, but the goal put Newcastle right back in this game, when they looked to be struggling.
And the Villa defenders made sure he didn’t move to his left, so he took the opportunity and hit it with his right foot like an absolute guided missile – pure technique and brilliance from the Frenchman – again.
Bigirimana was fitting in nicely in central midfield and after 67 minutes he put in a beautiful cross-field pass out to the left wing to Coloccini, who was trying to push up, as Newcastle were pressing Aston Villa for the go ahead goal.
Newcastle were pushing for the winner after Ben Arfa’s brilliance, and a nice cross into the box from Bigirimana found Demba Ba, who headed just over the cross bar.
Aston Villa put in a good attack which ended with Bent heading just over the cross bar, and Villa were also looking for a winner, and the former Sunderland man was seeing a lot of the ball.
After 80 minutes Stephen Ireland had an excellent chance from just outside the penalty box, but he somehow managed to shoot wide when he really should have scored – that was a let off for Newcastle.
After 86 minutes Alan Pardew brought on Sylvain Marveaux for Jonas and within a minute Gabby Obertan replaced Demba Ba.
Then with a minute remaining of the five minutes of added time, Yohan Cabaye almost got the victory for Newcastle, as his free kick from just outside the box was clawed out of the goal by goalkeeper Guzan, who saved Aston Villa today.
That was it, and the referee blew the whistle and on the second half display it was 2 points lost.
Newcastle looked a little lifeless in that first half and looked more like themselves in the second half, especially when Ben Arfa’s goal brought Newcastle right back into the game.
But Alan Pardew will remain a little worried about the contribution of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse – maybe it’s time to give young Adam Campbell a chance?
A decent draw after the poor first half display, but it’s still 2 points lost.
Thank heaven for Hatem Ben Arfa. 😀
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson (Gael Bigirimana 38), Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon; Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, Vurnon Anita, Jonas Gutierrez (Sylvain Marveaux 86); Demba Ba (Gabriel Obertan 86), Papiss Cisse
Subs not used: Steve Harper, Mike Williamson, Dan Gosling, Romain Amalfitano
Aston Villa (4-1-3-2): Brad Guzan; Matthew Lowton, Ron Vlaar, Ciaran Clark, Eric Lichaj; Karim El Ahamadi (Charles N’Zogbia 73); Brett Holman, Stephen Ireland, Barry Bannan; Andreas Weimann (Gabriel Agbonlahor 64), Darren Bent
Subs not used: Shay Given, Nathan Baker, Derrick Williams, Graham Burke, Jordan Bowery
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)