Toon 1 Swansea 2
By Footy Mad - Editor
Updated Sunday, 18th November 2012
Hatem Ben Arfa said two weeks ago: "We are facing a tough test in our next five games where we have to aim for maxim points" ... talking about United's EASIEST period of the season.
NEWCASTLE 1 SWANSEA 2
NEWCASTLE: 1. Tim Krul 5. Danny Simpson 74' 27. Steven Taylor 6. Mike Williamson 3. Davide Santon 10. Hatem Ben Arfa 8. Vurnon Anita 24. Cheick Tiote 31. Shane Ferguson 46' 28. Sammy Ameobi 79' 19. Demba Ba
Subs: 21. Rob Elliot 17. Romain Amalfitano 20. Gael Bigirimana 74' 22. Sylvain Marveaux 79' 23. Shola Ameobi 46' 34. James Tavernier 39. Mehdi Abeid
SWANSEA: 25. Gerhard Tremmel 22. Angel Rangel 6. Ashley Williams 16. Garry Monk 33. Ben Davies 7. Leon Britton 20. Jonathan de Guzman 12. Nathan Dyer 62' 9. Michu 82' 11. Pablo Hernandez 17. Itay Shechter 66'
Subs: 13. David Cornell 4. Chico 10. Danny Graham 82' 15. Wayne Routledge 62' 19. Luke Moore 21. Dwight Tiendalli 26. Kemy Agustien 66'
No big clubs, no title contenders, just run-of-the-mill clubs we would be expected to pick up points from.
As it happens, the first two of those five were West Ham and Swansea at St James' Park, and Alan Pardew talked up the battle: "I expect to win EVERY game, especially those at St James' Park".
The players - to a man - backed Ben Arfa.
Steven Taylor, Jonas Gutiérrez, Mike Williamson, Shola Ameobi, Yohan Capaye, Davide Santon and Danny Simpson ... all of them said "Six points are vital to get us into that leading pack".
Well, the reality has kicked in, and once again the 48,000 Toon fans turned up hoping to see a cultured performance, something we haven't seen ONCE this season ... and they left spitting blood.
Something is wrong at this club - I don't know what - but we sure as hell know things are not right.
Michu set Welshmen on the road to victory at Newcastle as the misfiring Magpies slipped to another shocking home defeat in seven days.
On a day when United were prevented from fielding Papiss Cisse because of a wrangle with the Senegal Football Federation, the depth of Pardew's squad was exposed once again.
Yes we have numbers - and the youngsters Mike Ashley wants to fill the squad with - but it was Swansea's "EXPERIENCE" that won the day.
A team shorn of Cisse, the suspended Fabricio Coloccini and the injured pair Yohan Cabaye and Jonas Gutierrez once again allowed three points to slip tamely from their grasp.
Newcastle had chances - Hatem Ben Arfa was denied a spectacular first-half opener by Swans goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel - and Demba Ba, who struck in injury time, was guilty of a series of costly earlier misses.
However, the visitors were more than a match for their hosts and were good value for their win, which was secured by Michu's 58th-minute header and a second from Jonathan de Guzman three minutes from time.
There were boos on the final whistle from sections of the home fans among a crowd of 49,403, with memories of last season's champagne football increasingly distant amid a run of seven Barclays Premier League games which has brought just one victory.
Cisse, who scored both goals in a 2-0 win at the Liberty Stadium last season, was conspicuous by his absence after Senegal carried through their threat to invoke FIFA's five-day rule following his failure to report for international duty because of injury.
That, combined with Pardew's other selection problems, gave something of a make-do-and-mend look to the team and perhaps understandably, they were disjointed.
The system with which they began was nominally 4-4-1-1, but at times, resembled more like 2-1-5-1-1 with right-back Danny Simpson repeatedly finding himself more advanced than winger Ben Arfa, and holding midfielder Cheick Tiote frequently out-numbered as Swansea broke at pace.
Michu, employed behind lone striker Itay Shechter, caused all kinds of problems as the home side struggled to pick him up, and on more than one occasion central defender Mike Williamson was left chasing shadows as a result of the Spaniard's intelligent movement.
The visitors might have struck the first blow when Nathan Dyer scuffed a sixth-minute shot across the face of goal, and Tim Krul was relieved to clutch Pablo Hernandez's long-range effort to his midriff four minutes later.
Michu tested the Dutchman from distance with a curling left-footed effort with the Magpies short of inspiration.
However, as Ben Arfa picked up the baton, they gradually started to force their way into the game.
The Frenchman blasted a right-footed effort into the side-netting and delivered a 27th-minute cross which Ba glanced just wide.
But it took a fine one-handed save by Tremmel to keep out Ben Arfa's fizzing left-footed strike after he cut inside 12 minutes before the break.
As Newcastle pressed forward, the Swans took advantage of the space they left behind them and Krul had to save twice from Shechter in quick succession with his defence in disarray.
But he would have been helpless had Michu managed to hit the target with a 41st-minute header after the Israeli had combined with Hernandez down the left.
Danny Simpson had to get in a vital clearing header after Dyer had caught the Magpies flat-footed with a quickly-taken free-kick after the restart.
Ba scuffed a volley after superbly controlling Davide Santon's cross on his chest and then Vurnon Anita almost capped good inter-play between the Ameobi brothers when he drilled inches over the top from 25 yards.
The chances were starting to come thick and fast and Ba might have scored twice inside a minute, first sidefooting wastefully wide from Sammy Ameobi's driven cross and then shooting straight at Tremmel after being played in by Ben Arfa.
But Swansea should really have been in front 10 minutes into the second half when Hernandez broke down the left and squared for Shechter, who took his time, but blasted a right-footed shot over.
Krul had to dive to his right two minutes later to turn away Hernandez's strike, but there was nothing he could do seconds later when the same man latched onto his poor clearance and crossed for Michu to head firmly into the bottom corner.
Ba headed a 64th-minute Tiote cross towards goal, but without the power to trouble Tremmel, and then could not react quickly enough to direct Shola Ameobi's driven cross on target three minutes later.
The Magpies were demonstrating little composure in front of goal, and were grateful to see Michu uncharacteristically do the same to miscue Hernandez's 76th-minute cross wide.
But the sting in the tail arrived three minutes from time when Krul could only parry substitute Danny Graham's shot and De Guzman smashed home the rebound from a tight angle, making Ba's late header after substitute Sylvain Marveaux had struck the bar practically irrelevant.