Newcastle Club Focus – Pardew aiming high after Blackburn victory

Newcastle moved into fifth in the table following a hard fought win over struggling Blackburn Rovers in midweek. The result moves the Magpies above Arsenal and Liverpool while they are only three points behind Chelsea. Given the trios struggles this campaign; a top four finish is not impossible, although Newcastle will need to put together another strong run of results. After the game Alan Pardew was content that his side were safe from any relegation fears and he is now aiming to continue to exceed expectations.

It was far from a vintage display by Newcastle, who were almost flattered by the final 2-0 scoreline. On the back of two consecutive defeats in the south it was important to get back on track and also to keep a clean sheet. The home side had over 20 attempts on goal but were denied by some stout defending, good goalkeeping and ill fortune.

Pardew told the media after the game: “To get a win on the back of Brighton was brilliant and we can look forward now to the end of the season. We’ve got a tremendous opportunity that we want to try and take. We’ve gone up to fifth tonight – it’s an outstanding achievement from this football club.” The manager has had to contend with a number of absentees in recent weeks, with matters not helped by the FA’s decision to punish Yohan Cabaye with a retrospective three match ban. For the past three games he has had to field a number of players out of position in midfield with mixed results. The new look 4-2-3-1 formation has drawn some criticism from the fans although with the return of some of the African contingent it may not last much longer.

Transfer deadline day was predictably quiet on Tyneside with no high profile arrivals or departures. The club’s biggest priority was to sign a central defender to provide cover for Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson. There was an increased offer made for Watford’s Adrian Mariappa but the two parties were unable to reach an agreement. That leaves Newcastle desperately short of defensive cover until the end of the season when they may look to switch their attention to more high profile targets. The transfer window can still be deemed a success with Freiburg’s Papiss Cisse one of the standout deals of the entire window. The fact that none of the club’s highly coveted players left will increase hopes of a strong end to the season.

Aston Villa provide the opposition on Sunday as the club look to continue their strong home form. When the two clubs clashed in September they drew 1-1 with Leon Best scoring for the Magpies. Newcastle will be boosted by the return of Demba Ba and new signing Cisse who joined training at the end of the week. Given Newcastle’s recent struggles in attack, Pardew may be tempted to play his talisman Ba from the start if he in decent condition.

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

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