At a time when some of their rivals are starting to falter, there is no let up in Newcastle’s drive for a top four place. A comfortable 3-0 win for the Magpies over Stoke made it six consecutive wins for Alan Pardew’s men. As a result the club have now moved up into fourth position in the league with only four games to go. That means that their destiny is now in their own hands although they still have a tricky quartet of games to negotiate. Saturday’s results could not have gone much better with Arsenal and Chelsea playing out a stalemate and Tottenham losing once again.
The win over Stoke was every bit as convincing as the scoreline suggests. Confidence is now sky high in the camp. The relatively new-look 4-3-3 formation is getting the best out of all the players and, as a consequence, is allowing the side to play an entertaining brand of football. The starting XI put out against Stoke was just about the strongest available to the manager, who at the moment has few injury worries to contend with. There were worries before the game over the fitness of ‘keeper Tim Krul, but in truth it would have made little difference who started in goal with Stoke having few attempts on target.
The stand out performer on Saturday was Frenchman Yohan Cabaye who scored twice and set up the third goal. While both his goals merit attention his exquisite pass to set up Papiss Cisse was one of the assists of the season. Only Cabaye will know how he had the vision to pick out Cisse with such a perfectly weighted through ball.
In recent weeks the central midfielder has been overshadowed by some of his more illustrious teammates, but against Stoke he was the best performer despite only playing for 60 minutes. Cabaye has benefitted from playing as one of three central midfielders since the change in formation. allowing him to get further forward than when playing as part of a two. He also appears to be on a similar wavelength to the prolific Cisse.
Manager Alan Pardew was in a bullish mood after the game and it is apparent that he is no longer playing down the team’s Champions League credentials. Speaking to Skysports he chose to praise both his playing and non playing staff. He said: “Everyone is contributing, this isn’t about one player or one person, it’s a combination of a lot of things that have gone on at this football club – from Mike Ashley down. Everybody deserves the credit they are getting.” The fact that for once everyone at the club is now pulling in the same direction is one of the key reasons behind this season’s success.
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