Let me first start by saying this is my 30th article for the blog! I can’t believe that I’ve hit that already, and there’s many more articles to come from me!
Yesterday was a great win for us against Blackburn. Usually when we end up playing Rovers it can be a bit of a banana skin for us. Thankfully it was not the case this time around and we came out on top with a 3-1 win.
There were many performances during the game that caught my eye and suggested that the team are gelling with each other and I thought that there was quite a few players who I could single out for a Man of the Match award. However, more than that, I thought that there were several key players who put in brilliant performances to help the team on the way to victory.
Demba Ba was outstanding in the game yesterday. He notched up the first goals of his Newcastle career with a hat-trick. The first goal was a great pass from his strike partner Leon Best, trapping the ball and striking it on the turn into the back of the net. His second came four minutes after the first when Blackburn failed to deal with a cross in to the box by Steven Taylor. Demba Ba was again on target to nod home his second of the match. To cap his day off, he scored his third goal of the match when a left-wing cross from Cheik Tiote found Ba who headed back across goal and straight into the back of the net.
This was the best game that I have seen Ba play in a black and white shirt. Previously when he has come on as a substitute he has shown signs that he was getting back to full fitness after Ramadan. Ba was clinical in front of goal and he took all three chances beautifully. It was a great performance from our Senegalese international.
Leon Best had a very good game yesterday, even though he failed to find himself on the scoresheet as a number of his chances either went over or just wide. His partnership with Demba Ba looked like one that is going to pay great dividends for the Magpies. They seem to work well playing off each other and Leon Best turned to provider for Ba’s first goal.
Best looked very sharp during the whole of the ninety minutes and several times he came close to punishing Blackburn’s defence. He caused a number of problems for Blackburn throughout the duration of the game, drawing Christopher Samba out of position so that the team would be able to capitalise. Besty showed during the game yesterday that he is putting the performances in every game for us even though he didn’t score this time.
Our midfield combination of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye were very effective yesterday. Cabaye was not as further forward as he was in the Villa game last week but during the game it seemed like his job was to help Tiote boss the midfield battle. And they certainly did that, breaking up the play in the middle of the park and then distributing the ball out to our wingers. Tiote again looked back to his full fitness as he put in another convincing performance to show that he is a midfield general. Apart from one bad pass Tiote had a flawless game. It also should be noted that the game yesterday was his third without a yellow card, a fantastic achievement for a player who notched up fourteen yellow cards last season. Cabaye’s job was also do the simple stuff of passing the ball effectively in order to help the team push on.
Jonas Gutierrez again covered well for Ryan Taylor and did get himself involved in the game when he ventured further forward. He was always tracking the runs of Blackburn’s attacks and when he was pushing forward in our attacks he was stretching the Blackburn defence in order for the team to get through on goal.
Gabriel Obertan was very impressive yesterday. He found himself involved in the game a lot and he certainly showed that he is a very pacey winger. He had a lot of joy down the right-wing and several times the Frenchman cut in and crossed the ball into the box. Obertan also found himself in spaces to have a shot on goal when Blackburn failed to close him down. Although the shots were mainly off target it showed that he is not afraid of cutting inside and having a shot at goal. The other impressive thing that I have noticed about the French international is that he tracks back in order to help the defence whenever the opposition are attacking.
Our centre-back pairing of Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini were again very effective yesterday. They seem to have a brilliant partnership and they dealt with the Blackburn attacks when they needed to be called upon on. Colo again showed that he is a great passer of the ball as he ventured forward distributing the ball further up field so that we could stop any danger from happening in our box. Steven Taylor looked very calm yesterday and he had the measure of Yakubu throughout the time that he was on the field and stopping him from getting involved in the game. These two look like a very strong centre-back pairing for all the games we play.
Our fullbacks yesterday at times had good and bad moments. Let’s start with Danny Simpson. He linked up very well with Gabriel Obertan and Simpson found himself getting crosses into the box. That link down the right side can be one we can perhaps build on for the next game. However Simpson had a couple of moments were he backed off the attacker which allowed a cross into the box, one of which led directly to their goal. He has been a good player for us over the last few seasons but yesterday there was times when I didn’t feel confident with him dealing with the attackers. It was such a contrast to the Villa game last week where I felt he had played the best game of the season so far.
The same can be said for Ryan Taylor. He did find himself, like Simpson, further forward, and put crosses into the box. At times he was able to deal with the oncoming attackers from Blackburn but his mistake did lead to their goal. However there was one other incident where he got a touch on the ball which stopped Blackburn from levelling it to 2-2. He can do a job for us at left-back but I feel that it’s a matter of time before Davide Santon gets fit that we will perhaps see him the left-back slot.
Tim Krul didn’t have much to do throughout the match yesterday but he showed that he is a quick distributor of the ball as he chose to roll the ball out several times in order to allow us to push on and attack.
Another player I must mention is Hatem Ben Arfa. He came on for Demba Ba and he was on the ball a lot and linked very well with Obertan and Cabaye which was very nice to see. Certainly it will be interesting to see how they all play when he is fully fit.
Another substitute who caught my eye was Sylvain Marveaux. He played very well against Forest in the Carling Cup and it seems as if he can push Jonas for the left-midfield slot. He looked very nifty when he came on and he is a very good crosser of the ball.
Credit must also go to Alan Pardew for this victory. He seems to have the team very well prepared for playing teams like Blackburn. We looked very organised and each player seemed to have a specific role to do throughout the game. We look a whole lot better playing these types of team than we did last year and I certainly think that Pardew is turning us into a very well organised side who can push on this season.