Newcastle's 'second-half syndrome' lets points slip against Southampton

Posted by Marc Duffy

Yoan Gouffran scored for Newcastle against Southampton.GettyImagesYoan Gouffran scored for Newcastle against Southampton.

Many Newcastle United fans believe that their team have underachieved in the second half of games all too often since Alan Pardew became manager. On Saturday, a half-time lead was squandered by the time the 90 minutes were up as Southampton came back to draw 1-1 at St James' Park.

- Rodriguez halts Newcastle home run

But do statistics back up this perception about Pardew's Newcastle? Well here are a few statistics I researched after the game:

- Under Pardew, Newcastle have not been able to win a Premier League game in which they've been losing at half time.

- They have, however, managed to lose four league games from a half-time winning position and have blown ten half-time leads in total.

- On six occasions in the league, Pardew's Newcastle have been losing at the interval but have fought back to draw, whilst they've lost nine times after entering the dressing room all level.

- And Newcastle have taken the lead in 11 of their 16 Premier League games this season, winning eight of them.

It is a trend that looks to be getting worse. If the 2010-11 season was decided on the second halves of games only, Newcastle would have ended on 57 points (in reality they collected 65); 2011-12 would have garnered 34 points (41 points were gained); so far this year Newcastle would have only 15 points (against the 26 they actually tally), with leads squandered against Hull and Southampton as well as poor second halves against Norwich, Aston Villa and Cardiff.

Overall, it's clear there is an issue, but it is probably not quite as bad as many people think.

If Loic Remy had brought shooting boots, Newcastle would have beaten Southampton comfortably and the French striker would have ended his mini-drought. He missed great chances either side if halftime and the second one in particular will haunt him.

Southampton, although enjoying their best season in many years, haven't won a game since Nov. 9, so it's not true to say they are a team in form. They were also missing some key players.

In a very flat atmosphere Newcastle looked comfortable early on. The home side took the lead through Yoan Gouffran, when at the 15,000th attempt, the much-used set piece routine of "aim for Mike Williamson to head back across" paid dividends. Gouffran pounced to go around Saints goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga and roll the ball into the empty net.

Southampton retained possession with some nice football, but Newcastle had the majority of the territorial advantage, though they didn't directly threaten the Southampton goal often enough.

As a result, Mauricio Pochettino's side began to impose themselves as an attacking force as the game rolled on. A double change at the break, replacing midfielder James Ward-Prowse and striker Pablo Osvaldo with Morgan Schneiderlin and Adam Lallana, gave the visitors a better balance.

Southampton's Steve Davis struck the post with a fine shot on 64 minutes. Newcastle then raced forwards and when an attempted Davide Santon through ball was cut out they found themselves chasing back in vain as Jay Rodriguez and Davis played a one-two around the stranded Fabricio Coloccini, with Rodriguez scoring the equaliser. The Gallowgate crowd were furious -- they believed that Rodriguez was offside, but the referees assistant was out of position being unable to keep up with the pace of the Southampton counter attack.

This was just one of a number of controversies involving the officials. The same assistant was hounded time and time again for his seemingly poor positioning and dubious decisions and then referee Mike Jones was given a nosebleed by an accidental flailing arm from Moussa Sissoko. Jones' dive to the floor was like something from La Liga.

A couple of minutes afterwards and a poor Morgan Schneiderlin challenge on Massadio Haidara brought a free kick but no card. It also triggered a brawl on the touch line that saw both club's goalkeeping coaches sent to the stands.

This was Newcastle's first draw in ten games and whilst they have every right to be proud of winning 16 points from the past seven games, they will view it as another two points dropped. Only Newcastle could go on a run that includes wins against Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea, but drop eleven points to Swansea, Sunderland and Southampton.


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