Newcastle United carried on their unbeaten run today with a win over Wigan Athletic. It wasn’t a pretty victory, but it was a victory and that’s the most important thing.
Yohan Cabaye scored his first goal for Newcastle dispatching a pass from Sylvain Marveaux into the top corner of the goal at the Gallowgate end to send the Newcastle fans into raptures.
The first half started slowly with Wigan having the best of the opening 15 minutes. Tim Krul made a spectacular save from Victor Moses when it seemed likely the Wigan wide-man would open the scoring. Hugo Rodellega was played down the side of the defence and struck wide of Tim Krul’s net when he really should have done better. But that was when the game turned the other way, Newcastle started to get a lot more of the ball after Wigan’s early dominance.
The midfield got control of the ball and Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye started to spread the ball with Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Gutierrez getting in some good positions. Newcastle’s best opportunity of the half came from a cross into the box by Gutierrez which Leon Best headed towards the goal only to be denied by Ali Al Habsi.
Yohan Cabaye and Leon Best were booked for the Magpies in the first half meaning Yohan Cabaye spent most of the game on a disciplinary tight rope.
Ryan Taylor also had a chance to make a mark in a fixture that he has a habit of scoring in with a free kick from about 25 yards. The ball glided past Al Habsi’s right hand post around the 40 minute mark and that was the last notable opportunity of the first half.
Apart from that the first half was very much a territorial battle with Newcastle having plenty of the ball and struggling to create any clear cut chances and Wigan flooding the midfield with their five midfielders and trying to hit us on the break.
At half time Pardew made a brave move and brought on Hatem Ben Arfa for Leon Best, at first it looked like it was going to backfire on us after a strong finish to the first half didn’t continue into the second.
But then Ben Arfa grew into the game and started to play some clever passes and create some opportunities, on plenty of occasions he got himself out the way of some rough tackles from Wigan, but who can blame him after his injuries in the last year.
Another cross into the box found the head of Demba Ba who had his header saved down low by Ali Al Habsi inches in front of the goal line. Gabriel Obertan had the beating of his full back but every team he went past him he seemed to pick out the opposite side’s winger with his cross, some work needs doing there.
It looked like it was going to be one of those days; we couldn’t create anything clear cut and Wigan were flattering to deceive with their tidy passing football. Pardew made his second substitution of Shola Ameobi for the tiring Demba Ba and that’s when we stepped up the tempo.
Ben Arfa dropped off a bit deeper and started picking up the ball. He picked the ball up on the left hand side and breezed past a challenge before gliding past Gary Caldwell before seeing his left footed effort saved by the on form Wigan goalkeeper too.
With 15 minutes to go Sylvain Marveuax was brought on for Gabriel Obertan he really staked a claim for a first team start. He played from the right hand side of midfield and showed a couple of excellent touches, the best of them to set a goal up for Dreamboat.
The ball was laid back by Sylvain Marveaux after a ball in from the left and Yohan Cabaye strode onto the ball and in curled it into the top corner of Al Habsi’s net with precision. St James Park erupted and Yohan and co ran to the subs bench and celebrated with the subs and coaching staff, a real show of the great team spirit at the club.
With 10 minutes to go I was getting a bit nervous, the opposition always gets one more chance and Wigan got it in the shape of Mohamed Diame. He rose and connected with a header 10 yards out which went just wide of Krul’s right hand post.
We managed to close out the game from there and kept possession for the majority of the remaining minutes to the delight of the Newcastle faithful.
Some will complain about a poor performance, but a wins a win, no matter how it comes. Winning a game when you’re not at your best is a sign of a good team, and that’s what we are this season, a good team.
Wigan weren’t the pushovers which most fans expected and it was a bit of a grind. They set up with 5 in midfield and made it difficult to pass through them, Hugo Rodellega had chances to score but he failed to make us pay on a number of opportunities.
The three points in today’s game takes us to 19 points from 9 games and leaves us joint on points with Chelsea for the meantime as they play tomorrow. That’s an outstanding start which is something the players and management should be very proud of.
This time last season we wouldn’t have won that game, the togetherness was for all to see today and really pulled us through. Last season we slipped up against the lesser teams like Fulham, Blackburn and Wigan at home but this season so far we’ve taken maximum points which is a huge improvement.
Once again our defence looked steady and Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote performed well in the centre of midfield against the three Wigan midfielders. Jonas Gutierrez had another good game and Tim Krul once again did everything necessary when called upon.
Gabriel Obertan did some good and some bad, he beat his man at ease at times but his final ball wasn’t of any quality. Leon Best and Demba Ba looked average but neither of them really had much to work with in a poor first 60 minutes.
Half time sub Hatem Ben Arfa showed the fans what he could really bring to the team. He goes passed opponents like they’re not there, but at times he makes the wrong choices and overdoes the dribbling. He’s still obviously rusty after such a long layoff and in time he’ll come good and be a real force in our attacking line up.
Sylvain Marveuax showed some very good touches when he came on and got an assist for the Cabaye goal, he seems like a clever footballer and there’s no doubt he’s knocking on the door of the first team now. I have a feeling Gabriel Obertan may see Sylvain taking his place in the team in the near future.
Today wasn’t a vintage performance it was a real grind, but we’ve got through it with another three points to our name and we’ve continued our unbeaten run which is beginning to amaze me. What are we doing up there with the big boys?
Next up for Newcastle is Blackburn away in the Carling cup where we can hopefully progress and our next league game is Stoke City away on Monday night live on Sky, which will be a real big test of character our new team.
Bring it on!
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan (Sylvain Marveaux 76), Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Leon Best (Hatem Ben Arfa 46), Demba Ba (Shola Ameobi 68)
Subs not used: Steve Harper, Davide Santon, James Perch, Alan Smith
Wigan Athletic (4-1-4-1): Ali Al Habsi; Emmerson Boyce, Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell (c), Maynor Figueroa; Ben Watson (James McArthur 82); Albert Crusat (Conor Sammon 81), Mohamed Diame, David Jones, Victor Moses; Hugo Rodallega
Subs not used: Mike Pollitt, Adrian Lopez, Hendy Thomas, Shaun Maloney, Jordi Gomez
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Howay the lads!