Alan Pardew made changes both before and during the match at White Hart Lane, and got a result. It was an injury to Papiss Cisse that forced Pardew to change his attacking formation and striker selections. But it was the changes made at halftime that helped flip the game.
I was going to title this post "Inspired Second Half Delivers Dramatic Comeback Victory Away." The point is obvious. Newcastle United had not come from behind to win a league match in over a year, and they had not won an away league fixture since March 1, 2014.
What happened? Well, let's start with the team Alan Pardew selected after confirming that his star striker was not available due to injury. Pardew once again ordered his team into a 4-2-3-1 formation. For the second straight match, Anita started in place of Cabella as the attacking midfielder.
Even a casual tactic observer like me knows that Obertan is more effective on the left side. He proved that in Europa League matches back in 2012. Regardless, this is what we got at kickoff, and right away, both teams under-performed for different reasons. Tottenham could have easily scored 2 or 3 goals, but lacked confidence in their final balls and touches, and they were not playing at full speed.
What happened next might not be entirely true, but what was visible speaks for itself. Alan Pardew says that he yelled at his team, saying that they were playing like a small club, and that they had to change their attitude:
We needed to offer a threat. We’re Newcastle United. We’re not a small club. We’re a big club and we were playing like a small club.
Pardew began the second half with two halftime substitutions. Sammy Ameobi replaced Gouffran, and Remy Cabella came in for Anita. Newastle kicked-off to start the second half. Colbeck held the ball, backed up to the circle, with his back towards his keeper, and launched a perfect, 30-yard lob to a charging Sammy Ameobi, who controlled the ball on the left side and put the ball into the far right of the net. In just seven seconds, the match was level. And Newcastle took over the match.
From that point forward, Newcastle had the better passing and defense. They were shaky. Often, they went back to their habit of hanging back, when Tottenham was not putting on any high pressure at all. The Spurs became disorganized. Almost all their shots went wide. And then Remy Cabella did what was expected of him when he was acquired by the club. He put up a lovely cross, and Ayoze Perez, who had been in the correct position all match, but couldn't get the final ball, headed it past a defender and the keeper.
Ayoze Perez had been keeping up with the more muscular, more experienced Premier League players all day. But he lacked finishing. He was not having a productive match. But that all changed when he got his first league goal, which proved to be the game winner.
The rest o the match was more typical Newcaslte United of late. Perez was replaced by Haidara, who interestingly played forward a lot, when he job was to break up passes and defend. Sammy Ameobi was electrifying as he broke up several passes by the opponents. Throw in some key blocks by Taylor and Coloccini, plus a couple of key catches by Krul, and it was game over.
We Toon supporters were shocked, and I think so was the manager.
Now on to what more expert pundits had to say.
Kevin Christie, The Mag:
The Newcastle manager has his faults and the stats show just how poor his side have been since last Christmas but if he continues to be brave and throw caution to the wind, Pardew may just win one or two fans over once again.
There was no apparent strategy other than packing it in around goal. Then Ameobi came on at halftime and scored six seconds after the whistle, and suddenly Newcastle decided it felt like playing.
See more Pardew post-game comments here.