By Amit Shabilla After two great and somewhat unexpected victories against Jose Mourhino’s Cheslea and AVB’s high flying Spurs Newcastle find themselves 3 points ahead of where they were after 14 games this time last season having played 3 games less.
With 3 away wins already on the board and no Europa League hangover’s Newcastle have made a promising start to a turbulent premier league season. With everyone now having beaten everyone (see the matrix doing the rounds on the social media sites) we should be looking at a strong top half finish.
With the exception of Sunderland (A) and Hull (H) Newcastle have started well this season. The system of 4-4-2 has worked wonders both at home and away and Pardew has finally realised that we are at our best against the so-called bigger teams when letting them attack and exploiting them on the counter with the likes of Remy, Gouffran and Sissoko all utilising their greatest attribute – pace.
With only one summer signing this season, lets take a look at the factors in which make this team so different from the team that flirted so closely with relegation last season.
1. January Acquisitions Getting to Grips with the PL
Mapu Yanga Mbwia, Mathiew Debuchy , Moussa Sissoko and Yohan Gouffran have all cemented their place in Pardew’s starting line up this season. Having initially struggled with the pace and strength of the Premier League compared to Ligue 1 its clear now that all have found their feet within this team. Mapu looks an assured CB alongside Mike Williamson and his commitment was typified by his goal line clearance from Erikkson’s free kick on Sunday.
Debuchy has been the only ever-present player for Newcastle this season and seems to have found the right balance between when to bomb on and when to hold his defensive positions. He also looks to have come back much stronger having bulked up over the summer to cope with the power of the CF’s in the PL.
Sissoko hit the ground sprinting last season getting an assist on his debut and scoring twice against Chelsea at SJP. However he drifted out of many games following that last season, partly because Pardew couldn’t find his best position. Although being deployed out wide (residing Ben Arfa a seat on the bench) Sissoko has played fantastic in the last 3-4 games again utilising his pace and stamina to press higher up the pitch (something Ben Arfa would never really do).
Lastly, Yohan Gouffran is quickly becoming a fan favourite on Tyneside. Coming in with little reputation and an even smaller price tag (£1.5m from Bordeaux) Yohan has proved to be a great buy. His work ethic is 2nd to none and he does not give defenders a moments rest. Not only that be he can score and assist, doing both against Chelsea and Spurs respectively.
2. Established Players Finding Form
I will be the first to admit I have never been a fan of Mike Williamson however this season he has been inspired. Ever since the 2nd half against Everton in which he won pretty much everything against Romelu Lukaku he has looked a new man. Confident and assured, Williamson has slotted in seamlessly for the injured Coloccini and Taylor and has a good shout at starting the next game against Norwich alongside Mbwia having kept clean sheets in the last 2 games.
Managers aren’t often given the credit they are due as players are the ones which cross the field and take all the plaudits. However, installing Cheick Tiote as Captain for the injured Coloccini is nothing short of a masterstroke. Tiote has been one that has noticeably found his form which once had him valued at £15m from the likes of Chelsea.
Cheick was guilty of trying to overplay the ball too many times last season but now seems happy to going back to basics in winning it and distributing it. Discipline was always Tiote’s down fall with almost a 1-2 yellow card game ratio. However now he seems much calmer (I’m pretty sure Pardew has a button sending 240 volts to Tiote’s armband any time he thinks he’s going ‘wolverine’).
Vurnon Anita is another who has now shown us why paid £6.5 for him from Dutch giants PSV. With man of the match display against West Ham and an assist against Chelsea Anita has been pushing for a starting place all season and hasn’t disappointed when given the chance.
It’s fantastic to see all of our acquisitions finally making their mark for Newcastle. Out of all of our January acquisitions mentioned, who has impressed you the most?