Yesterday proved to be another “Super Sunday” for Newcastle as it saw us beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1 at the Hawthorns, a ground that’s not been fruitful for us in the last few seasons.
The game was an outstanding away performance, something which many didn’t expect. Jamie Redknapp even went as to say it was “one of the best away first half performances” at half time, and his father manages the mighty Spurs.
The first half began with Newcastle on top, and we were in the lead by the 6th minute, when from a corner the ball broke to Jonas Gutierrez, who played an inch perfect pass to Hatem Ben Arfa in the left hand side of the box. Ben Arfa slid the ball across the box right into the path of Papiss Cisse who fired the ball first time into Ben Foster’s net.
Shortly after Newcastle broke away with a flowing move seeing Ben Arfa pass the ball into Yohan Cabaye who returned it to his French compatriot, despite pressure from Liam Ridgewell the ball broke to Papiss Cisse who returned it to Ben Arfa, the Frenchman then dispatched the ball into the bottom right corner of Ben Foster’s net with a rasping strike.
West Brom had a couple of efforts in the first half with Marc-Antoine Fortune squandering a couple of headed chances. They then had a goal rightly called offside, despite Sky trying to say that it should have counted. I felt that was a bit weird.
We punished West Brom for their missed chances and added a third before half time. Hatem Ben Arfa picked up the ball and ran from right to left before passing the ball to Demba Ba. Hatem carried on his run around the back and a sublime back heel by Ba was played right into his path, Ben Arfa pulled the ball back for Cisse to knock in his second and Newcastle’s third.
In the dying moments of the first half Fabricio Coloccini got injured. It seemed as if he pulled his hamstring and it was later confirmed by Alan Pardew that he could miss the next two or three games. That meant for the second half James Perch was moved to centre back alongside Mike Williamson and Davide Santon was brought on to play at left back.
The hosts started the second half brightly but we had the first chance of the second half when Papiss Cisse was sent through, but Ben Foster made a good save to deny the centre forward his first hat trick in English football.
West Brom got one back through Shane Long due to poor communication from Mike Williamson and Tim Krul. Williamson headed the ball straight to Shane Long before being cleaned out by the advancing Krul, Long put the ball into an empty net and we once again showed how much we need Fabricio Coloccini.
Hatem Ben Arfa was pulling the strings and his jinking runs were wreaking havoc in the West Brom defence and he had another chance when he beat three or four men and struck the ball to Foster’s left, which he palmed away from any onrushing Newcastle players.
West Brom threatened for the rest of the game but they lacked any clear cut chances, Odemwingie had a shot which stung the palms of Tim Krul and Mulumbu had a couple of attempts blocked by our defenders.
The game got scrappy and injuries started to take their toll, Papiss Cisse went off with around 10 minutes to go due cramp in both calves. Then James Morrison of WBA went off injured which left them with 10 men on the pitch for the remainder of the game, which really stopped them posing a major threat.
Our new formation of the three in the middle really worked today, the front three were absolutely devastating and it really gave Hatem Ben Arfa the opportunity to get involved in the game. Ba worked very hard and linked the play up extremely well, and Papiss Cisse finished the game with two goals and one assist, Hatem Ben Arfa got two assists and one goal, that shows how well they linked together.
Other notable mentions for James Perch who was excellent at both left back and centre back, doing the basics right and even getting involved going forward. Yohan Cabaye also seemed like he was improving and he was influencing the play a lot more than he has been over the last few games, which was good to see. Jonas also played the centre midfield role excellently and didn’t stop running for the whole game.
We’re picking up a decent bit of form at the right time, we virtually took a point away at a very good Arsenal side, and have won our last two games so we’re going in the right direction for the run in.
We’ve now got an 8 point lead on Liverpool and we’re level on points with Chelsea in 5th. That’s an impressive achievement and we’ve just got to finish the job off now. Liverpool next Sunday will be a massive indicator on whether we can challenge for fifth or not, but personally, I’d be chuffed with sixth.
Howay the lads!