Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies look to keep up 2012 form

Newcastle United return to Premier League action with a home game against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, hoping to continue their fine start to the New Year. The Magpies have won both their games in 2012 so far, as they look to achieve a top six finish. A few days ago their match against QPR seemed like a home banker but the circumstances have changed following the arrival of Mark Hughes to West London. Now the opposition players will have a point to prove as they look to impress their new manager ahead of what is likely to be a busy transfer window.

The Hoops have a lack of options in midfield with Joey Barton and Alejandro Faurlin ruled out through a combination of injury and suspension. Former Magpie Barton would no doubt have been looking forward to his first return to the north east as a player since leaving in acrimonious circumstances in August. Despite losing one of their star players from last season Newcastle have not looked back and do not appear to have missed Barton’s creativity.

Newcastle will be without youngster Sammy Ameobi after he picked up a knee injury playing for the reserves in midweek, which could rule the England Under-21 international out for several months. Hatem Ben Arfa should retain his spot in the first team after scoring one of the club’s best ever goals last weekend. He may move to the right hand side of midfield if Pardew opts to play two out-and-out strikers, most likely to be Leon Best and Shola Ameobi. The most likely player to make way is Gabriel Obertan after the French winger produced another sub-standard display in the FA Cup.

The transfer rumour mill has been in full swing this week with Newcastle linked with an unlikely move for former player Andy Carroll. The story came out on Wednesday morning but both clubs have denied any approach has been made. Carroll has had a troubled 12 months since leaving his boyhood club and appears no closer to fulfilling his £35 million price tag. Newcastle have had few problems since his departure with the goals of Demba Ba going a long way to making up for the loss of the former number nine.

Ba himself has been the subject of plenty of transfer interest, with a number of England’s top clubs eyeing up the second top scorer in the league this season. With news of a release clause in his contract now very much out in the open, Newcastle may be forced into offering Ba a new deal to keep him on Tyneside. The player this week reacted angrily on Twitter to a supposed agent, Armand Doorn, attempting to move him from the club. He wrote: “Really, I don’t know how desperate this ‘armand doorn’ can be to talk like he’s my agent! He’s nothing for me. Stop lying and show respect.”

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Newcastle v QPR

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