It was a day to forget for utility player Ryan Taylor who was dismissed by referee Chris Foy for a two footed lunge on the opposition’s Johan Elmander. Although the referee frustrated the home support and manager Alan Pardew on a number of occasions there could be no disputing the decision to give Taylor a straight red. The former Wigan man was only selected in the starting XI due to key man Joey Barton picking up an injury in the warm up. It was Taylor’s first appearance since October as an ankle injury has sidelined him for several months.
Given a real shortage of players capable of playing in the wide areas Pardew had little option but to throw Taylor straight into action despite a lack of game time. At times he appeared ring rusty with his sending off brought about by a poor touch which he then tried to make up for by making a rash challenge. He will now miss the next three matches that both the club and player could do without. Down to 10 men Pardew trialled a new system with Steven Taylor introduced as part of a three man central defensive unit and the full backs pushed on as wing backs. This could be a formation to experiment with in the future as the Magpies’ full backs Jose Enrique and Danny Simpson both like to get forward. They are also stronger in the middle of midfield compared to out wide on the flanks.
For the first half in particular it was another encouraging performance for Newcastle who have tended to enjoy better results on their travels. They had a number of chances to extend their lead from a Kevin Nolan goal but some poor defending allowed Daniel Sturridge to make them pay for their carelessness. It was a much more enjoyable game for Nolan than his first rematch against his old employers back in November. The Scouser’s headed goal brought up the impressive milestone of his 50th career goal in the Premier League. That is an excellent achievement for a player who does not always receive the recognition he deserves.
In the build up to the game Newcastle received a major boost when midfielder Cheik Tiote signed a new six and a half year deal. Tiote has become one of the most popular players among the fans with some top class displays and his stunning goal to cap-off the comeback against Arsenal. Supporters will be hoping he will remain on Tyneside for the remainder of his contract and at the very least it ensures potential bidders will have to pay big money to sign him. Assistant manager John Carver has signed a five and a half year deal as stability sets in at St James’ Park.