I seem to have a standard opening to every single post I write, which usually consists of a comment about the dreamland my team is currently in, a remark about the players we somehow have been able to aquire and finally I’ll probably say that it’ll end soon.
It’s becoming repetative, so I so won’t do it again. I will say this though. It’s official, Newcastle United will be Europe next season.
Sound’s good, doesn’t it? But the thing is, which European competition we will be entering remains to be seen, because if the season was to end right this minute, Newcastle would find themselves having qualified for the Champions League. Still a long way to go, and it’s only natural that, with the last few seasons being filled with pessamism, I don’t believe we will clinch fourth.
Still, stranger things have happened. Not many can or will deny that we deserve it. Watching Newcastle in the top flight is a joy for the first time really since the Sir Bobby era in my opinion, it’s great to see a team with no fear brimming with confidence and able to just sweep aside teams, not least last season’s FA Cup runners-up, Stoke City.
It’s getting harder and harder every week to second guess Alan Pardew’s team selections, not necesserily the personell, but the set up. For example, I think we didd go 4-3-3 yesterday, but not only did Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse keep interchanging positions, it seemed that Yohan Cabaye and Jonas Gutierrez did the same, with very successful results.
As the game started, I have to say I was very confident. However, we didn’t come straight out of the blocks and the first half-chance of the game fell to Stoke, and to Jon Walters, but he made a mess out it and couldn’t convert. From then on it was all Newcastle, and, with about a quarter of an hour on the clock, the first blow came.
Hatem Ben Arfa picked up the ball on the left (yet more of Pardew’s interchanging) and with Marc Wilson to beat, which he did with characteristic ease, he whipped the ball accross for Cisse to head on to the bar. With everyone standing still, Yohan Cabaye picked up the pieces to nod home the easiest goal he’ll ever score. 1-0 Toon.
Before long the game was almost done, as on 18 minutes it was two. That man Cabaye picked up the ball, and it seemed with minimal effort he was able to see a pass that no one (including Alan Pardew, incidentally) saw to pick out who else but Papiss Cisse, who timed his run to perfection to score his 11th goal in 10 games. Simplly outrageous.
The early failure to penatrate the Stoke defence simply disappeared from that moment on, and with a refreshed Cabaye pulling the strings in the middle and the always confident Cisse upfront, perhaps Newcastle could have pushed on before half time and been out of sight, but it wasn’t to be and the half ended 2-0, I was happy enough.
I think of myself as a fan that will be fair to other clubs and compliment them alot, credit where it’s due kind of atitude. However, when it comes to Stoke I find it very tough. I have very little respect for their style of play, the majority of their players and especially their manager. Tony Pulis for me is a sore loser, a hypocrite and a disgrace to football. But hey, that’s just my opinion.
The second half began with both teams as they were, with the same 22 on the pitch, (despite there being a Stoke sub in the first half). The only thing left to do was wrap the game up, and if you ask any Newcastle fan at the game yesterday, Demba Ba was the man they all wanted to score next.
It’s no exaggeration to say that people were desperate for him to find the net again. Despite not scoring, he did have a hand in Cabaye’s clincher. As it was getting a little tight in an area where Ba and Ben Arfa were, and the chance was looking like it was getting away from them, Cabaye stepped up to curl a lovely strike into the bottom corner from just outside the area to grab a brace and kill off the visitors. The points were ours, the Champions League charge was very much alive.
Much like the first half, possibly Newcastle could have pushed on and grabbed a couple more goals, but it was nice to be able to protect players before next week’s trip to Wigan, as at different points in the half, Cisse and Cabaye were both withdrawn to rapturous applause, and replaced by Shola Ameobi and James Perch respectively.
Even so, the crowd was still desperate for Ba to grab a goal, but apart from a few mistimed runs, poor shots and a free kick which led to two rocket shots from Cheick Tiote, nothing happened for him. It wasn’t his day.
It was Newcastle’s though, as we moved up to fourth, and thanks to other results, we will be staying there for at least another week. Good times are returning, but how good?