Monday, November 7, 2011

Collective Rear Guard Action Stretches Toon Unbeaten Run

Newcastle United kept up their unbeaten run with a 2-1 win over Everton. That's eleven matches already and tongues are complimentary at the prowess of Alan Pardew in building a solid team spirit in spite of losing Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll and Joey Barton in the summer. The Magpies remain the only other team yet to be beaten this season.

Last weekend's win was a result of Newcastle's ability to dig deep and defend as a team. The collective defensive display from Tim Krul to Demba Ba secured a vital win for the Toon army, sending them into the international break sky-high in confidence.

Ryan Taylor's spectacular winner made sure that Newcastle had something to defend and they did that in excellent fashion. The loss of Marveaux and then Cabaye forced Pardew to revert to a second-half defensive system designed to repel everything that Everton could throw at them.

It was all Everton in the second half, but the Toffeemen lacked the firepower and pace to stretch Newcastle. Ex-Evertonian Dan Gosling came on and he was instrumental in keeping Everton at bay. It was his "arm" which deflected a goal-bound Saha shot. Gosling was like a sweeper, mopping up everything defensively. Newcastle managed to ride their luck and when Ben-Arfa came on, he was impressive in keeping the ball, using up precious minutes on the clock.

Pardew did exactly what he needed to do to get a result. Fortunately, Newcastle had that valuable Taylor goal to defend, and they did so efficiently. However, injuries to Obertan, Marveaux, Tiote and Cabaye will be cause for concern as their next match will be against the other unbeaten team, Manchester City. Yohan Cabaye makes Newcastle tick and without the Frenchman, the Magpies looked rather ordinary.

On a more positive note, Hatem Ben-Arfa is getting close to full fitness on the evidence of his performance against Everton. His mercurial and incisive play will be crucial against the Citizens, assuming if Cabaye cannot recover from his groin strain.

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