I had a feeling we’d draw at West Ham and with long-overdue goal-line technology, we might have won. Cissé has been unjustly judged six times this season. He has scored 6 rule-abiding goals which have not been counted to his personal or, more importantly, the club's tally.. But ‘shuddas and cuddas’ don’t win trophies or stave off relegation.
What counts, for starters, is attitude and you could see before the kick off that the team were up for it.
If anyone dares to suggest that Cabaye is not committed then they are talking out of their arse. He might not be at his most confident or effective BUT he ran his socks off.
He covered every blade of grass, harried and blocked lobs up to Carroll for the whole ninety minutes. His shooting, passes and free kicks are far from what we know he can deliver BUT Cabaye is two metres ahead of anyone else in midfield in mind and space. If he gets his ‘mojo’ back for the QPR game, along with the some help from Sissoko, we’ll stuff them.
Tiote, doggedly determined, had his most effective game of the season. He stuck to his best position, a la Makelele, in front of the back four and took no prisoners. For some reason Dowd gave him a yellow card for a committed, sliding tackle where he clearly won the ball with no mal-intent. He excelled at blocking Andy Carroll from making any runs for dead ball situations. good to see him ‘back’.
Man o’ the Match goes to Colocinni; never put a foot wrong, great positioning, marshalled the whole team superbly. Steven Taylor is twice the player alongside Colo.
Both full backs had solid games but special mention goes to Mbiwa. Playing out of position, he got caught a couple of times but, to compensate, he looked very comfortable in possession and remained unphased in tight play.
Praise goes to Gutierrez too. He doesn’t go past players the way he used to. One pass in particular went unnecessarily awry and we got caught on the break BUT defensively he ran tirelessly, covered all the angles and made a quick footed clearance whilst the ball bobbled in front of goal.
Likewise, Gouffran, ran and ran until going off with hopefully only severe cramp. Had his first touch been better he could have scored two goals, one in each half, when he got behind West Ham’s defence.
60+ minutes gave the still-not-100%-fit Ben Arfa a much needed run out. He wasn’t at his best but gave all he could muster and (as long as he isn’t hiding an injury that we’re not being told about) should be in good shape for the QPR game.
The somewhat maligned Elliot was bought as a £500K reserve goalie and maybe those who have a pop at him should remember that. His running-out was suspect on one occasion but he made 2-3 fantastic saves to keep the scoreline to zero.
Well, I think I’ve mentioned the whole starting line up. It wasn’t top 5 stuff but Newcastle didn’t look like relegation fodder either. We took the game to West Ham and were the better side in the first half. West Ham came on stronger in the second half and we stood our ground firmly.
Newcastle can win handsomely at QPR if we show the same determination and improve our creativity.
Closing note: It was good to hear the Toon supporters applaud and sing “No-No-Nolan”. He cocked up an attack on the byline near where I stood and gave a wry smile to the Toon supporters. I suspect that he (and Andy Carroll) would prefer to playing in black n’ white still.
Who was your man of the match yesterday?