5 Observations – Newcastle v Hull

After an encouraging away win at Villa last weekend, it was a disjointed and disappointing performance that saw Hull leave St James’ Park with all three points after coming twice from going behind to win 3-2.


Last week, Newcastle’s defensive line successfully limited Aston Villa’s chances with some high pressing and good tackling, however it was the complete opposite on Saturday, as the team looked languid in closing Hull down whenever they had the ball. Two of the three goals came from a lack of organisation and urgency from certain players. As you can see from the defensive dashboard, there is a lack of defensive pressure down the middle of the pitch.

NUFC Defence


1-1 Brady (26 mins)

The first picture below shows Stephen Quinn on the ball being marked by Anita (underlined in blue).  Santon is keeping tabs on the Hull player at the top, however Sissoko has let his man run past him and is heading into free space.  Closer to the near touchline, there is an overload towards the back post.  Aluko has positioned himself against Debuchy (green), Yanga Mbiwa is marking Danny Graham and Coloccini is poorly positioned and isn’t marking anyone.  Colocinni’s responsibility should be marking either one of Aluko or Graham; if this was the case, then Debuchy would be free to mark Robin Brady.  At the moment in our own defensive third, it is a 6 v 6 situation, which is poor.  Ben Arfa should have recognised Brady by himself and covered whilst Debuchy was infield marking Aluko.  Cabaye is too far forward and with Anita and Sissoko being dragged out to the far touchline and should ideally be in the large area circled in yellow to cover defensively and at the same time be aware of Huddlestone coming in.

Hull Goal 1

In the second picture, Aluko moves into the empty space. Quinn moves inside with the ball and passes to Aluko.  Both Coloccini and Debuchy are aware of the pass and start to close Aluko down. Ben Arfa, (yellow underline) is caught ball watching and should be closing down on unmarked Brady.

Below, Aluko receives the ball and has time to turn and pick out unmarked Brady.

Hull Goal 2

Once Brady receives the ball, all Newcastle players are too far away to make a challenge and Brady fires the ball past Tim Krul.

2-2 Elmohamady (48 mins)

This goal is well worked by Hull and thanks to a bit of good fortune, Elmohamady is unmarked as he flicks on Brady’s free kick.  All is fine prior to the moments leading the free-kick.  The set piece is going to be aimed at the front post with Hull players moving into the vacated area.  The Hull player starts to take Debuchy away from the target area, leaving the runners to make their move.  Unluckily, Coloccini turns his back and points to his defensive line, but just as he does so, Elmohamady makes his move into the vacated area and headers the cross unopposed. A well worked set piece and it got me thinking why we don’t have anything remotely imaginative other than the long ball to the big man (usually either Williamson or Shola) to knock it on.

Coloccini loses Elmohamady

Coloccini loses Elmohamady

2-3 Aluko (76 mins)

Hull’s third goal was well worked with good movement and a cool finish from Aluko, but some basic tracking from Ben Arfa and Sissoko could have easily prevented this.

(top l-r, bottom l-r) Ben Arfa and Sissoko fail to track

(top l-r, bottom l-r) Ben Arfa and Sissoko fail to track

1. George Boyd receives the ball in on the left flank and the Hull left back starts moving up field. Ben Arfa glances at him and lets him run ahead of him far too easily (2) and receives the ball from Boyd. Debuchy and Ben Arfa swap players, 3. Ben Arfa is now marking Boyd and glances at him. Again, Ben Arfa lets him run past behind him too easily and Boyd receives the ball again in the danger area.  Meanwhile, Sissoko who is supposed to be tracking Aluko’s run from midfield, never acknowledges Aluko, ball watching at all times.  At one point Sissoko is ahead of Aluko, but as he is too busy ball watching. 4. Aluko runs past on his blind side and Boyd picks out Aluko with a good cross and Aluko coolly volleys the ball unopposed. Overall, some very poor and disappointing defending from Newcastle, who were easily outmaneuvered from some basic movement from Hull.


In contrast, Hull defended excellently against Newcastle.   Hull when without the ball, quickly got back into their shape of two narrow banks of four, close together to not allow Newcastle any space in the centre of their defensive third and to stop any runs into that space between the two banks.

This left Cisse extremely isolated as he was surrounded by Hull players. Below is Hull’s defensive dashboard.

Hull Defensive Dashboard

They defended their 18 yard box very well and on the whole stopped Newcastle building any attacks in there.  In the whole match, Hull made 24 tackles in own half, 19 interceptions and 33 clearances.


With Hull defending so deep in their half and with numbers, Newcastle failed to penetrate their defence and both goals came from good fortune. Cisse’s mishit shot fell and Cabaye’s blocked shot both fell kindly to Loic Remy, who clinically finished both chances very well. Other than those two shots, Newcastle failed to test Allan McGregor. As you can see from the shot map below, 15 shots were taken, 7 were off target and 6 shots were blocked, as Hull kept Newcastle to shots mainly outside of the area.

NUFC Shots

Another example of Newcastle’s lack of creativity is shown by the map below. With Cisse heavily marked, Newcastle tried to dribble through Hull, but with no luck. Newcastle failed on a number of take-ons, as Hull were able to pressure Newcastle players with one or even two players at a time.

NUFC Take-ons: note failed attempts in orange

NUFC Take-ons: note failed attempts in orange


With Hull willing to soak up pressure and Newcastle pushing players on, it allowed Hull to play the counter attacking game with lots of space for Aluko and Graham to run into. Aluko played extremely well and as detailed previously made clever runs all over the pitch and into empty space vacated by Newcastle. Even though Hull took less shots than Newcastle, they were more effective with theirs.  Hull took a total of 12 shots, 5 on target, 1 off target and 6 were blocked.

Hull Shots

From the shotmap above, a number of Hull’s shots (including blocked) were inside of Newcastle’s 18 yard box, as Newcastle failed to compete with the movement of Hull’s players and managed to get into the area to take a shot – something Newcastle only managed to on a few occasions.  Hull’s game plan was to focus on Newcastle’s weakest link – their right hand side with Debuchy, the weakest of the back line and Ben Arfa offering little defensive support on the day.

Hull focus their attacks down Newcastle's weaker right hand side.

Hull focus their attacks down Newcastle’s weaker right hand side.


It was a very disappointing day, as there was an air of optimism coming on the back of a three game unbeaten run in the Premier League and an assured performance only one week ago.  We looked good up until the first goal and after that, we looked complacent thinking that we were going to roll Hull over. A wake up call to Pardew to highlight that we’ve not turned over a new leaf and there’s still work to be done on the training ground with our basic defending.  Attacking wise, Pardew needs to find a Plan B when our original game plan doesn’t work.

Next up are Everton away next Monday night, who have yet to be beaten in this season. Martinez has converted Everton into a good passing team with lots of movement between passing phases and along with Spurs, take the largest amount of shots on goal.  Sounds ominous.


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