Newcastle Club Focus – Unbeaten run ends as Magpies fail to take chances

Newcastle’s 11 match unbeaten streak finally came to an end with a defeat to league leaders Manchester City. For much of this season the Magpies have continually punched well above their weight but on Saturday City were a bridge too far.

Few teams have been able to cope with Roberto Mancini’s big spenders this campaign and Newcastle became the latest side to leave the Etihad Stadium empty handed. However Alan Pardew’s men did not disgrace themselves with another spirited performance and if they had taken their chances in the first half it could have been a different story.

Due to a number of injury problems to contend with Pardew fielded an attacking minded side to counter the prolific league leaders. There was a surprise first start of the season for teenage prodigy Sammy Ameobi while Hatem Ben Arfa also started at the ground where he suffered a double leg break. With defensive midfielder Cheik Tiote still sidelined through injury Newcastle were missing a key component in their bid to stifle the home side’s attacks.

Danny Guthrie and Yohan Cabaye were at times over-powered by their much more physical opponents in the middle of the pitch. As if to underline the gap between the two sides Newcastle were able to call upon the likes of Peter Lovenkrands and James Perch from the substitutes’ bench whilst City were able to bring on international players such as David Silva and Gareth Barry.

It was a day to forget for left back Ryan Taylor who for much of the current season has been a consistent performer for the Magpies. He was guilty of giving away a penalty in the first half with a handball that he had could have few complaints about. Then just minutes later he was caught dallying on the ball inside his own penalty area by Micah Richards to make it 2-0. The Manchester City full back was a constant menace to Newcastle’s left flank all through the game as he played almost as another winger.

For much of the season the combination of Taylor and Jonas Gutierrez down the left has been rock solid but on Saturday they were repeatedly exposed by the pace of City’s attacks. One of the bright notes from the game was the performance of Ben Arfa making his first league start. He showed his class playing in the ‘hole’ and was unlucky with an effort which rebounded off the post.

Pardew has urged right back Danny Simpson to sign a new contract with the club. An offer is on the table for the right back but he has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal. Simpson has been a constant presence at full back since joining from Manchester United in 2009. Pardew told the Sunday Sun newspaper: “We’ve made Danny an offer which I think is a good offer, if I’m honest. I think Danny should commit to the football club because he’s done terrifically well here and the one thing I do know about young players in the Premier League, you can get lost quite quickly.”

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