NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Cheik Tiote (R) of Newcastle gets past Mauro Formica of Blackburn during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers at St James' Park on September 24, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Something I want to experiment with is posting a player ratings thread each week for the community to contribute to. For now, the idea is that I will post my own ratings, backed by chalkboard analysis or statistics, and then allow you guys to chime in with your own. I want this to be organic, though, so let me know if you guys have any more creative ideas on how we can do something like this. Ratings are after the jump.
As I mentioned in the Post Game Thread, Newcastle dominated this fun-to-watch game. As a result, I've given several high grades.
Tim Krul - 6
Blackburn Rovers only managed three shots, and the only one that was on goal found the back of the net, so the statistics won't look good. David Hoilett's goal was a solid shot and it would have taken a wonder-save to stop it from going in, so it's hard to blame Krul for the lack of activity. Still, he continues to struggle with his distribution on long balls (he missed a total of 8 passes; all 8 of them were classified as "long" and 7 of those 8 went over the half-way line). If Demba Ba and Leon Best are going to continue to play up front - and it would be difficult for Pardew to justify playing anybody else right now - the long ball must become a thing of the past.
Danny Simpson - 6
Simpson attempted way more crosses than anybody else (9) and only completed 3. At times it seemed as if Gabriel Obertan was deferring to Simpson when it came time to boom a ball into the box, and given last week's performance, that seemed a decent strategy. Whoever does the crossing on that side of the pitch in the future must do a better job.
Back to Simpson - his failure to close down Martin Olsson led directly to Hoilett's goal. It was a classic Simpson move - biting hard on the feint toward the touchline, leaving all kinds of room for the ballhandler to cut to the inside. Of course, it wasn't all bad. The Simpson-Tiote-Obertan triangle was quite effective when it came to maintaining possession and moving the ball down the field.
Steven Taylor - 8
Taylor was a bit quieter than he has been in previous ties, but in this case it's not a negative. The Rovers stayed completely away from his zone, opting for width when they found themselves on the left side of the pitch. His presence did allow Fabricio Coloccini to take risks, especially in support of Ryan Taylor, and for that he should be commended. He only missed 3 of 28 passes, 2 of which were headers. Otherwise, he was a machine. A quiet, well-oiled machine.
Fabricio Coloccini - 9
I mentioned just above that STaylor's presence in the middle allowed Coloccini to support Ryan Taylor. We all saw that with the naked eye, especially as he made a couple of crucial tackles when Raylor wasn't getting the job done. I didn't expect to see this on the chalkboard, however:
Coloccini was practically playing in Taylor's zone. Any team that plays Newcastle knows that they have to attack the edges, but their task is made much more difficult when those holes are plugged by the central defenders without having to sacrifice a strong presence in the middle.
Ryan Taylor - 7
On the other hand, it would be nice if there were no glaring weaknesses for other teams to exploit. Taylor's performance wasn't all bad, though he was guilty of the cardinal sin of not knowing when to take risks on more than one occasion. He was involved in the attack and even completed a couple of crosses, which is nice, because now we know that it's possible to do that while wearing a Newcastle shirt.
Gabriel Obertan - 7
Obertan played with a motor, to use a terrible cliche, and his aggressive style resulted in 3 scoring chances created, not an insignificant amount. He still didn't complete any crosses (surprise, surprise) and he wasn't as proficient with his take-ons this week. Still, he had a very positive impact on the game.
Cheik Tiote - 9
My Man of the Match, if it weren't for Demba Ba's hat trick. Tiote was everywhere. He gave an interview earlier in the week where he said his partnership with Yohan Cabaye was going to start paying dividends soon. I wonder if he knew it would be such a fruitful relationship so soon. Cheik masterfully took away and retained possession, quelling several counterattacks, and the best part about it was that Cabaye was always right there to receive his passes once he navigated his way out of traffic. There's almost nothing to criticize here.
Yohan Cabaye - 9
Quick mind, with quick feet to go along with it. That's what we heard about Cabaye when he showed up on Tyneside, and he's spent the last few games showing us why. Like Obertan, he created 3 chances, and like Raylor, he completed both of his cross attempts. The freedom that he has to showcase his skills on the offensive half of the pitch has paid all kinds of dividends.
Jonas Gutierrez (OFF 84') - 7
Like Colo, Jonas spent a lot of time doing his part to relieve the right-sided pressure (from Blackburn's perspective). He was fairly invisible in the attacking third, though, and he continued to show that maddening tendency to dribble inside instead of pressing the issue toward the touchline.
Leon Best - 7
An underrated performance by the other striker in this game. He and Ba have started to develop some chemistry (Ba's assist to Best in the Aston Villa match is pretty much a mirror image of the first goal in this one), putting to rest any questions the Toon Army had about filling the void at the position - at least for now. Missed opportunities are beginning to be a problem, but Best did everything you could ask of a striker except score. It sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I assure you it's not. By the way, he played his first full game in a Newcastle shirt this time around, which one might interpret as a public vote of confidence from Alan Pardew.
Demba Ba (OFF 74') - 8
If you score a hat trick in FIFA, you're guaranteed at least a 9, no matter what else you do. Unfortunately for Ba, this ain't FIFA. I'm not going to diminish his accomplishment, but he must be more involved in the attacking third when he's not scoring. Of course, if he keeps scoring, who cares?
Hatem Ben Arfa (ON 74') - INC
16 minutes plus stoppage is not enough to earn a grade, in my opinion. However, I'll just say this: Newcastle were dominating the game before HBA entered the fray. His presence elevated the level of play even farther. That says a lot.
Sylvain Marveaux (ON 84') - INC
I can't wait for him to get his first Premier League start. Of course, who would he push out? This is what Marlo Stanfield would characterize as "one of them good problems."
Now it's your turn, and I'm being genuine about this. How do you rate each of the individual performances this week? How can we be more interactive in this feature in the future? Let me know.