Club Focus – Newcastle – Magpies banish away day blues

Newcastle provided further evidence that they are good enough to stay up this season with an excellent away win over Everton. A super long range strike from new boy Hatem Ben Arfa was enough to give the Magpies a thoroughly deserved three points. It is the first time Newcastle have won on the road in the Premier League since way back in February 2009. The result sees Newcastle climb up to 6th in the table and represents a good comeback following a poor showing against Blackpool in their previous game.

New signings Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote were both highly influential on their first starts for their new team. Chris Hughton showed his ruthless side by jettisoning the underperforming Alan Smith and Jonas Gutierrez to give his new signings a chance to shine. The foreign pair did not disappoint and encouragingly both looked at home in the English league. Ben Arfa was a constant thorn in the Everton backline with his trickery and movement causing problems down the left and his wonder goal will make him an instant hero on Tyneside. The uncompromising Tiote’s debut was not as spectacular as Ben Arfa’s but he still played an important role in the win. The Ivory Coast international broke up play in his own half and also showed some promising bursts going forward as well. Hughton was quick to praise the impact of his summer signings. He told BBC Newcastle: “You never know how they’ll settle. If the two of them are as involved and playing as well as that come the end of the season we’ll be absolutely fine. It was a super goal [from Ben Arfa], one I’m sure we’ll see of great value on television over the next couple of weeks, but even more important than that is the impact he had on the game.

The only low-point in the game from Hughton’s point of view will have been seeing goalkeeper Steve Harper taken off on a stretcher. Harper was taken out in the first half by a late challenge from Jermaine Beckford and fell awkwardly on his shoulder. The chances are that undisputed No 1 Harper will be absent for months rather than weeks. The injury should see back-up goalkeeper Tim Krul finally given his chance to shine in the first team. The 22-year-old Dutchman has had to wait patiently for first team football and has had few of chances to show his ability over the past few seasons. Up to now he has only made four appearances in the league but has rarely let the team down when called upon.

Harper’s injury has also seen some stories in the press link Manchester City’s Shay Given with a dramatic return to Tyneside. As the Irishman is out of favour at Eastlands Newcastle have been linked with a loan move for Given due to a shortage of goalkeepers. As Fraser Forster is on loan at Celtic and unable to be re-called young Swede Ole Soderberg is the only other option in goal beside Krul. However, Hughton has dismissed the reports, saying: “I can understand that and it is a very emotional one but no, I can say that won’t be happening.” Although Given was a hugely popular and respected figure among the fans there is also a certain resentment about the way in which he left the club in January 2009. It would also be unfair on Krul who needs game time to aid his development between the posts.

Newcastle return to action on Wednesday night in the League Cup with arguably the toughest tie of the round. They face in-form Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for a place in the next stage of the cup. It may come as a relief that Carlo Ancelotti is planning to make some changes to his starting XI and give some of his youngsters a chance. Chris Hughton is also likely to make some changes to his team with the cup seemingly low on his list of priorities. Veteran defender Sol Campbell is set to make his Newcastle bow and there could also be starts for Shola Ameobi and Peter Lovenkrands. As right-back James Perch has picked up his fifth booking in five games so he will miss the match through suspension, giving Ryan Taylor a chance to make a case for a run in the team at full-back.

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