Newcastle Club Focus – Ba provides Halloween treat for Magpies

Newcastle moved up to the dizzy heights of third in the Premier League with another fine team display away at Stoke. Striker Demba Ba provided the headlines with a hat-trick as a well organised, determined team performance saw the Magpies win 3-1. Monday night’s trip to the Britannia Stadium was always going to be one of the biggest tests so far this season but for much of the game Alan Pardew’s men looked untroubled by the home team’s direct and physical tactics. The result leaves Newcastle above the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool after 10 games while they are only one point behind champions Manchester United.

In Ba Newcastle boast one of the most in-form strikers in the Premier League and he now has eight goals for the season following his second hat-trick of the campaign. The Senegalese international is already looking like a very shrewd piece of business by the club’s management after joining on a free transfer in the summer. Ba could quite easily have been a Stoke player but for a medical that gave the Potters cause for concern, but the Magpies have taken a chance that is so far paying dividends. The 26-year-old has shown a predator instinct during his short time in England but against Stoke he also showed a willingness to work for his team in all areas of the pitch.

A trip to Stoke provides a number of challenges that few other top flight clubs pose but manager Pardew stuck to his usual attacking 4-4-2 formation. Even with the loss of the influential Cheik Tiote Newcastle’s midfield still pressed the ball high up the pitch. Tiote’s replacement Danny Guthrie did a solid job in the centre of the pitch to ensure the African’s absence through injury went largely unnoticed when the action got underway. Newcastle’s defence coped with the threat from Stoke’s various set-pieces for much of the game and were aided by Tim Krul’s confidence to come for the ball at every opportunity. At times the young Dutchman misjudged the crosses but his willingness to come for the ball worked effectively against Stoke’s tactics.

In other news Pardew has issued a ‘hands off warning’ to any clubs interested in defender Fabricio Coloccini. In recent weeks the cultured central defender has been linked with a return to a Spain and also a move to Liverpool. With almost 18 months to run on his current contract there is a need to tie down Coloccini as quickly as possible. The 29-year-old has continued his impressive performances this season and has revelled in the role of club captain. Magpies fans would be loathe to lose another player to Merseyside following the departures of Jose Enrique and Andy Carroll. Pardew told the media: Liverpool like looking at our players, don’t they? He’s been outstanding for us as a captain and a player and we’re in negotiations with him on a new contract.

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