Newcastle Club Focus – Pardew looks to continue impressive start

Newcastle progressed into the next round of the League Cup with a dramatic victory over Nottingham Forest. A winner in added time in extra time from captain Fabricio Coloccini put the Magpies into the fourth round of the cup.

The result was vindication for manager Alan Pardew who named an experimental starting XI against the Championship strugglers. There were debuts for new ‘keeper Rob Elliot and French midfielder Mehdi Abeid while Hatem Ben Arfa made a welcome return as he edged closer to a return to full fitness. In total there were nine changes from the team who played Ason Villa at the weekend as Pardew followed the lead of the majority of top flight managers.

Despite the presence of Ben Arfa in the team for the first time in almost a year he was upstaged by one of his fellow countrymen. On the left flank Sylvain Marveaux produced an impressive performance to strengthen his case for a starting spot in the league. The former Rennes player set up the first goal, won a penalty and was a constant menace to the Forest backline all game. Playing over 120 minutes will also have helped Marveaux as he is also still regaining his match fitness having missed most of the previous season. With Marveaux and Ben Arfa in the team Newcastle should have a greater attacking threat in the coming months. In contrast new goalkeeper Rob Elliot did not have the most comfortable of debuts as he conceded three goals in a less than convincing performance. It remains to be seen what role former number one Steve Harper has this season as he is yet feature for the first team.

The Magpies have home advantage at the weekend following three successive games on the road. They face a Blackburn side who eased some of the pressure on their manager Steve Kean with a fine win last weekend. However Newcastle’s confidence should be sky high following an unbeaten start to the season. Going into the game striker Shola Ameobi is an injury doubt while Mike Williamson remains on the sidelines. Defender Davide Santon is unlikely to be involved although his knee injury is not as bad as first feared.

Manager Alan Pardew is determined to stay grounded despite his side’s impressive start to the campaign. Few would have expected Newcastle to occupy a place in the top four, even after five games, given a summer clouded by uncertainty. Pardew has lost a number of key players without fully replacing them all but it has yet to be shown in the results. He said: “We haven’t really got that squad, I am sure of it, but I look around the building and I just see players in good form. But this Premier League is such that one game can knock that on its head, so you always have to be on your guard. It’s heady heights for us, but we are not getting carried away because it is early days.” Expectations have now extended to pushing for a place in the top ten come the end of the season.

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