Newcastle Club Focus – Woes continue after Norwich defeat

Newcastle extended their winless run to four games with a 4-2 loss at Carrow Road. A makeshift back four were unable to cope with the host’s physical presence throughout the game and ultimately paid the price. To make matters worse Dan Gosling was sent-off in his first league start of the campaign to add to Newcastle’s list of unavailable players. Alan Pardew’s men have now slipped from Champions’ League contenders to seventh in the table and will want to get back to winning ways as soon as possible.

It was always going to be a big ask for the Magpies to keep a clean sheet against Norwich City given their dearth of options in central defence. The club’s three experienced defenders are all currently out injured so there was a very unfamiliar line-up on Saturday. Pardew has had the luxury of naming an unchanged back five in all the club’s league games before then but at the weekend there were four changes of position in defence. James Perch and Danny Simpson were named at partners at the heart of the defence and unsurprisingly were unconvincing.

Norwich’s game-plan of playing two powerful strikers with lots of balls coming into the penalty area paid dividends as they exploited the Magpies’ weakness in the air. Without Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini there was nobody to attack the ball from set pieces and organise the defence. From set pieces and from crosses the defence was all at sea with all the conceded goals coming from balls played into the box. Newcastle will hope to have captain Coloccini back next week to provide some much needed stability in the team.

Newcastle will feel unfortunate with the first goal that they conceded as it appeared that goalkeeper Tim Krul did not carry the ball over the line when conceding a corner. It appears that the Magpies’ luck has run out of late as they have been on the end of some poor refereeing decisions. Yet earlier in the season they were getting the rub of the green with some decisions. There could be few complaints about Gosling’s red card with the midfielder dismissed for a rash challenge. The former Everton player has struggled to make much of an impression since joining at the start of last season and getting sent-off will have done little to help his cause. His place in the team could go to Alan Smith who made a rare appearance late on in the game.

At least Newcastle can continue to rely on Demba Ba for his goals with the striker scoring twice to keep his team in the game. The in-form striker made it 11 goals in 16 games with a couple of well taken finishes. While Pardew has tried a number of combinations in attack Ba has been the main constant with the Senegalese star one of the first names of the team sheet. It will represent a major loss when Ba travels to the African Cup of Nations early next year.

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