Club Focus – Newcastle United – Ameobi looks for consistency

Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has called on his teammates to produce the same type of performances they have managed against the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal against the league’s so called smaller teams. Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the reigning champions Chelsea saw Newcastle move up to ninth in the table. It was an important result given a number of surprise results at the weekend causing an already congested league table to become even tighter. Even though Newcastle have not won in four games they still hold down a place in the top ten above the likes of Liverpool, Everton and Aston Villa. So far this season the Magpies’ most disappointing scorelines have been in the games they would have expected to take all three points. Home reverses to Blackpool, Stoke and Blackburn have all come as big blows to the Newcastle fans.

It has often been the case that their best performances have materialised when expectations have been to get a draw at the very best. The draw with Chelsea and an excellent 1-0 win at the Emirates have come when Newcastle have often had their backs to their wall for long spells of the game. Ameobi is hoping that his team can display the same resilience and discipline against the Premier League’s lesser lights. The six-goal forward said: “It’s a little annoying our best performances keep coming against the best teams, and then we drop points against the others. When we play the top teams, I think we’re naturally a bit more cautious. We have a good shape and we limit them to a few chances. We are a lot more solid and we don’t let them play, but we have to take that into every single game.”

Newcastle’s defensive display was no doubt helped by the return of defensive midfield anchor Cheik Tiote from suspension. The Ivory Coast international was missing from the Bolton debacle with the Magpies appearing to miss his presence and ball-winning skills in the middle of the park. He produced another good display against a Chelsea team featuring a couple of his international teammates, with Didier Drogba quick to praise the midfielder: “I think Cheik is going to go on and be one of the strongest players in this league. I have to say that physically he is a bit stronger than me. Newcastle well and truly have a star player on their hands in Cheik.” The only problem the Magpies have with Tiote is his disciplinary record as he picked up his sixth yellow card of the season on his return against Chelsea.

The third round of the FA Cup sees Newcastle return to one of their most embarrassing moments in their long cup history. In 1998 they were pitted against non-league minnows Stevenage Borough, who held them to a replay at their Broadhall Way ground. There was little love lost between the two teams with Newcastle trying to get the tie switched to St James Park on safety grounds. As a result, most neutrals were hoping the non-leaguers would make the Magpies pay for their perceived arrogance. Stevenage now play in League Two and the tie will be played in the New Year.

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