Just what is going on at Newcastle? An unbeaten start to the season, a water tight defence, strikers scoring goals, key players returning from injury and some new signings looking much better than the higher profile players they replaced.
The performance against Blackburn was undoubtedly the best performance of the season. Apart from the Blackburn goal I don’t recall Tim Krul having a save to make. The key difference to our earlier games was our attacking performance. We attacked with real pace and direction. Gabriel Obertan in particular thrived from the space that was afforded to him by the Rovers defence; I felt they had earmarked Yohan Cabaye as the main threat and thus left Obertan too much room to get at their full back.
Alan Pardew said from day one that he wished to create a team that controlled games. Newcastle certainly did that against Blackburn, and even away to Villa we controlled the game for large parts. Much has been said about Cabaye, and all of it thoroughly deserved. He oozes class. In the final 20 minutes against Blackburn, Newcastle kept the ball like they were a team who deserved to be in the Champions League places after 6 games.
Whilst the goal we conceded was a touch sloppy we did not look like conceding other than that. It wasn’t exactly an easy chance for Hoillet either, it was a brilliant finish. Danny Simpson and Ryan Taylor have their critics as defenders, and Taylor isn’t the long term answer to the left back position, but credit where credit is due, these fellas are more than playing their part in a defence that has the best record in the division. Davide Santon might have to wait longer than we expected to make his mark on the team if we keep defending as we are.
Pardew commented shortly after the transfer window closed that he felt we had lost the early momentum we had gained by our failure to bring in striker. This was perhaps true. That momentum is now back. Ba got his hat-trick and played very well, finally overcoming the ramifications of Ramadan. Leon Best also played very well, he created a few good chances himself which should overshadow the fact that he did not score. The most important thing being that he did have the chances. Indeed, every time Leon plays he seems to have a chance. I am not saying he is a top striker but he’s a damn site better than I thought he was going to be when we signed him 18 months ago.
Ba and Best linked superbly yesterday which begs the question of where do we play Ben Arfa? These are the problems we simply haven’t had in far too long. On that note, Marveaux looks like he deserves a chance to start and show what he can do.
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