Thursday, 31 January 2013

Better but more is needed

So it's been a few days since Newcastle won away from home. Impressive from the Toon but months too late. The season's objectives have changed a lot, last week it was to stay in the premier league whereas at the start of the season it was to push on from last season's heroics when Newcastle finished 5th.

Lets look at the positives. Once again we played fantastically in the first half, controlling the game, spreading balls around the park and looking very confident against a shoddy and very young Villa side. The new signings seemed to fit right in, Sissoko being the more impressive. He got stuck in whilst playing in a more advanced role than was expected pre game. In doing so, he set up the first goal finding Cisse with a delicious through ball. Cisse dispatched and Newcastle went one nil up. What was this madness? The other debutant Yoan Gouffran showed pace and determination, chasing down every ball in the first half. His eagerness was infectious and is what you want to see from every new signing. Seemingly, there will be no problem with the new contingent settling in. At one nil, Newcastle were still fragile. Although they were dominant, the travelling fans and Pardew would of been wary of their away record. Instead of taking the foot of the gas, they pushed on for a second. Enter Yohan Cabaye. Jonas crossed from the right, Yohan took the ball down and with his second touch rifled it home. Top corner. Top goal. We were on our way to an away win. Not since Chelsea away had the Toon won. For the first time in a long while, I felt confident going in at half time but I wasn't counting my chickens. Not yet - I support Newcastle, trouble isn't usually far away.

Aston Villa are also in a dogfight. Their situation is worse than our own. They face relegation with a young inexperienced squad and have recently been knocked out of two competitions. Losing to Bradford was embarrassing enough but to go out of the FA cup days later is diabolical and I'd be worried if I supported Villa. Who's their next messiah? Accio Radcliffe? David Cameron?

Lambert made attacking subs at the start of the second half, going for broke and praying for a miracle. Rather fortuitously, they were awarded a penalty after Debuchy tripped Agbonlahor, the Villa man hitting the deck. It's a penalty but Agbonlahor's reaction was extravagant to say the least. Annoyingly, Newcastle sat back again. Did they learn nothing from the Norwich fiasco? Thankfully Newcastle came away with the points but were 2nd best in the 2nd half. We were overrun in every area of the pitch and were sloppy when we were in possession of the ball. Villa had 4 strikers on the pitch and all were capable of putting the ball in the net. To be fair to the Toon defence they were exceptionally resolute. A win is what Pardew wanted and a win is what he got. Newcastle fans have waited a long time for the win, naturally Newcastle were going to make them sweat it out.

There's now no excuse to not push on. They have the away win under the belt and have key players such as Cabaye back from injury. The new players have added quality and depth and we should be able to cope with European commitments easier. Next up is Chelsea, if Newcastle avoid defeat I firmly believe they will be able to go on a run of form and move away from the drop zone. Eden Hazard is unavailable for Chelsea and it's likely Ross Turnbull will play in goal. If we attack Chelsea and limit their attacking threat, there is points to be gained. Chelsea fans turn on Benitez for nothing, if the Toon get under their skin, Chelsea will have a very uncomfortable saturday afternoon.

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