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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Newcastle show why having a settled side works

Newcastle United's unbeaten Premier League run came to an end on Saturday at The Etihad Stadium as table toppers Manchester City defeated the magpies 3-1.

The Summer saw a lot of comings and goings on Tyneside.  Many pundits predicted a season of struggle for the Toon after the departures of key midfielders Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton to West Ham and QPR respectively.

Barton joined QPR on a free

Newcastle still hadn't replaced Andy Carroll according to some, before Demba Ba started banging in the goals (8 in 12 Premier League games), unknown French midfielder Yohan Cabaye arrived from Lille... He won't replace Nolan's quality said some and Sylvain Marveaux was another import from the French league, after arriving from Rennes that the Geordies had ever heard of.

Due to the form of Tim Krul from the previous season meant that Mike Ashley didn't need to splash the cash in getting another goalkeeper meaning that the one position that had been untouched by boss Alan Pardew was defence.

The back four at the start of the season, from right to left consisted of Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor.  The back four twelve games into the season - Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini and Ryan Taylor.

The settled back line has helped in Newcastle's brilliant start.  Krul knows whether his defence will leave a cross for him to catch and the backline knows when Krul will come for it - An element of trust is their now and The Toon finally seem to have some stability - On the pitch at least.  Ryan Taylor, playing in a more un-accustomed left back position has gone from strength to strength and even netted the winner against arch rivals Sunderland at The Stadium of Light.

Its not just defence that have earned praise however, Cabaye has been a revelation in the centre of the park and seems to be the heartbeat of everything good the Toon do and already has a good understanding with Cheik Tiote.

Cabaye keeps Toon ticking over in midfield
Up front, it took a bit of time but Ba is coming alive - since kickstarting his career on the Tyne with a hat-trick at home to Blackburn, the Senegal hitman has scored against Wolves and Tottenham before grabbing another treble away at Stoke.  The partnership between him and Leon Best is beginning to bear fruit with the latter being more of an assister to Ba's goals rather than a goalscorer himself judging by the three goals he has to his name so far.

Deadly Duo: Ba and Best have shown a good understanding
Right, I've given plenty of praise to the players on the pitch but a big pat on the back needs to go to Pardew.  The manager raised a few eyebrows when he was appointed by the owner however, he has slowly but surely got the Toon Army on his side.  Pardew obviously knew his best side early on, probably in pre-season and is sticking to his guns.  The team, although maybe not the best has shown that by knowing what each is going to do on the field they can be a success and can do well.

Happy Days: Pardew has answered his critics
Of course, the real test now is seeing how they do now that unbeaten run has come to an end.

Nevertheless, things are looking up at St James Park..... or is it The Sports Direct Arena nowadays?!

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