Better late than never. Better to be lucky than good. Both adages apply to Papiss Cisse’s 93rd minute goal which gave Newcastle their 2-1 win over West Brom on Sunday. Sammy Ameobi’s ambitious shot struck an unaware Cisse to wrong foot Ben Foster and gift the Senegalese striker his first Premier League goal of the season and victory to the Magpies. Prior to that, it had appeared that the Baggies were the likelier winners, especially after the late introduction of Shane Long, who twice went close to giving his side the lead in the latter stages.
Whilst acknowledging that the defeat was cruel on their impressive opponents, Alan Pardew was happy with the endeavours of his players, who led at half-time thanks to Demba Ba’s seventh Premier League goal of the season, only to be pegged back by Romelu Lukaku’s header before Cisse’s fortuitous winner.
Pardew will then be thankful for having a week free from Europa League action and until late next Sunday afternoon to prepare his players for their next game against Liverpool at Anfield. In order to end a run of being beaten on each of their last seven Premier League visits to the red half of Merseyside and win there for the first time since 1994, a better performance than that against West Brom will be required. However there is sufficient evidence to suggest that this can be delivered by a resolute and united (pardon the pun) squad, graced with several mercurial talents.
In Tim Krul, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson, Yohan Cabaye and Ba, Newcastle have a spine to their team which is complemented, in particular, by the creativity of Hatem Ben Arfa and industry of Jonas Gutierrez in the wide areas. Together, it constitutes a strong unit that have been, if not spectacular, hard to beat this season, losing just three of 15 competitive games so far.
For two of those three defeats – against Manchester United by scorelines of 1-2 and 0-3 in the League Cup and Premier League respectively – captain Coloccini was absent. Whilst this rather abstractly underlines his importance to the side, what it undoubtedly shows are the consistently commanding performances he has turned in since Newcastle’s return to the Premier League at the beginning of last season.
The Argentine’s leadership qualities and ability to act as a calming influence on his colleagues continue to be vital for the fortunes of the team and will be so again in the forthcoming fixture against Liverpool, especially since he is likely to be directly up against the in-form Luis Suarez. This individual battle between the two South Americans is set to intrigue, as will those which arise elsewhere on the park but ultimately it is likely to be the one in the dugouts between Pardew and Brendan Rogers that will bear greatest on the game’s outcome.
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