Newcastle Club Focus – Magpies battle to home win

Newcastle ended a sequence of four games without a win with a much needed victory over Norwich. The result reignites the club’s hopes of achieving a European place although they will need to perform much better than this for the remainder of the season. Going into Sunday’s game both sides were out of form and it showed in a largely scrappy affair. Another goal from Papiss Cisse was the difference between the two sides as the Magpies moved five points clear of Liverpool for the time being at least.

One of the main talking points from the game was Alan Pardew’s decision to field a number of players out of position. A combination of injuries and players out of form were the reason behind the manager’s unorthodox team selection. Jonas Gutierrez started at left back in place of the struggling Davide Santon, while James Perch started in central midfield. While the selection could be one of the reasons behind a lack of control of the game in truth Perch and Gutierrez were two of the best players on the pitch.

In the past Perch has often been a figure of fun among the Newcastle supporters with many believing he is not a top flight player. While that may still be the case he has very rarely let his side when called upon this season in a variety of positions. The former Nottingham Forest man ensured that key midfielder Cheik Tiote was not missed too much in front of the back four with a series of tackles and interceptions.

After the game Pardew told the BBC: “We needed a win and we had an injury crisis. We weren’t firing on all cylinders, had eight players injured and had to grind it out. We have finishers on the pitch and that helps. Cisse showed what he’s about today, he could have had a hat-trick.”

Papiss Cisse once again delighted the home fans with his third goal in four games in front of the Geordie public. While the African is still coming to terms with his new life and new style of play in England all the signs are that he is looking an astute signing. The striker came in for a little bit of criticism after being dropped for the Arsenal game on Monday night. Against Norwich he produced probably his best display so far in a black and white shirt with a good all round forward display.

Cisse may feel that he should have had a hat-trick after he got into a number of good goalscoring opportunities. The new number nine appears to be good at timing his runs behind opponent’s defences which should be made easier the more he plays with his new team mates. Cisse is certainly making up for his fellow countryman’s lack of goals with Demba Ba scoring just the once since returning from the African Cup of Nations.

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