Newcastle Club Focus – Newcastle continue to raise Ba

Alan Pardew saw another piece in his jigsaw come together at the weekend as Demba Ba inspired his side to a home win. Many of the manager’s decisions over the summer have been vindicated with Ba becoming the latest player to step up to the plate. The former West Ham striker scored a hat-trick to lead his team to a 3-1 victory over Blackburn. The win sees the Magpies remain in the top four and also keep up one of the few unbeaten records remaining in the country.

Before Saturday’s game it would be far to say that Demba Ba had made an underwhelming start to his Newcastle career. He had yet to show the form that had won him plenty of admirers when playing for West Ham last season. But a quickfire double in the first half saw him regain his confidence which had previously been lacking. All of goals came from poacher’s finishes inside the penalty area as Ba displayed his skill on the ground and in the air. There were also signs of a burgeoning partnership developing alongside Leon Best for probably the first time this season. Despite the two players having similar characteristics they looked capable of playing alongside one another in Pardew’s preferred 4-4-2 formation.

Perhaps one of the reasons behind Ba’s slow start was his commitment to his Islam faith that meant he had to carry out Ramadan in the early weeks of the season. With Ba only able to eat at certain times of the day it could have played a part in his strength and conditioning. He looked more like the powerful presence he was at West Ham against Blackburn which should bode well for the future. Pardew now has two in-form strikers to choose from which will be a relief given the flak given at the closure of summer transfer window.

The manager was quick to praise his team who put an end to Blackburn’s previous fine run of form at St James’ Park. He said: “We were brilliant today. Blackburn going down to ten men was an injustice really because we controlled the game. We’ve had a good start to the season. But you can only take one performance at a time.” Another plus point alongside the performance was the return of Hatem Ben Arfa in the league for the first time since last October. He received a resounding reception from the home fans who have already taken to the Frenchman despite his lack of games for the club. There are also signs that St James’ Park is becoming a fortress once again as the home side have not lost at home in seven games. There previously was a feeling that the Magpies struggled with the pressure when playing at home but now it has become a tough place to come and get a result.

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