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Newcastle v Stoke - Gallowgate View

Looking around the stadium when the two teams entered the St James' Park cauldron, we could be forgiven for the subdued applause by the crowd by the goings on of the day before with one too many sherries or far too much turkey consumed.

It seemed to be the case with Newcastle on the pitch as well as we allowed Stoke to dictate the best part of the opening 35 minutes.

What followed will be blamed on the sendings off from them but there's no excuse whatsoever for the thuggish antics that they employed.

Anyway, before we get to that, we actually started off quite brightly with a composed passing game which allowed us to maintain possession.

We never looked like hurting them too much but we didn't look in any danger of conceeding either until we started to get sloppy or too cocky with our passing.

This allowed Stoke to build momentum and gain confidence in attacking our obviously contained formation. Their goal followed the shot across our bow just a few moments earlier and this spurred a bit of fight from us and the crowd.

Much had been spoken about in our formation in that opening half an hour or so, with people on twitter and in the crowd saying we were playing a 4-3-3. I saw it as more a 4-5-1 with two players in particular seemingly playing in the wrong position.

Sissoko was too far forward for me and Ben Arfa too deep.

Ben Arfa inparticularly trying to dictate things from our own half and not doing too well at that point. I even had thoughts that we looked as if we didn't know what each other's jobs were for a spell as Stoke and the loutish Charlie Adam threatened to spoil the party mood even further.

The sending off of Glen Whelan for them changed the game and it was all their own fault because the player had lost it anyway. Following Cabaye around at one point as if to say 'I'll have you'

A few of their players had attitudes, kicking balls into the crowd amongst young kids and the disabled at various points causing crowd anger. A horrible team with a horrible attitude.

Even without the first sending off, I sensed we'd get back in to this in the second half and I never once thought we would lose because we sat back so much but credit must go to the team for taking our chances when faced with a brick wall.

The second red card caused a scenario I haven't seen since the derby back in 1985 but we capitalised on this a lot more and could/should have added further if not for taking our foot off the pedal and a mix of the officials feeling sorry for Stoke and not punishing some of the most blatant fouls you'll see.

2 further red cards could have followed for them and probably would have done under a different ref.

Whilst it's difficult to give a fair assessment of player performances, what i will say is that Mike Williamson was immaculate before the sending off with his new found composure adding to his massive improvement of timing, decision making and strength on the ball.

Ive seen worse players get national recognition and would do so if based down South.

Yohan Cabaye had a decent first half as well as he battled and showed a will to win the ball, chasing everything as well. The only thing lacking was the urgency to get forward as we continue to toy with this dangerous containment thing. We do this against Arsenal and we'll lose by 3 or 4.

Anyway, the second half was a lesson and a good one at that with Ben Arfa showing his full bag of tricks and playing very near to his capacity with a magical show that more than deserved a goal at the very least.

Special mention to Yohan Cabaye for listening to the crowd chants to allow Cisse to get a chance from the spot to open his league account. He didn't have to but the hugs beforehand showed a great spirit amongst the camp.


Krul - 6. Didn't have a lot to do at all and never stood a chance with a whipped raked shot.

Santon - 6. I thought he was injured as he didn't stand out too much for me and could have overlapped better in the first half

Williamson - 8. A pity that the second half was so one sided as he was immense in that first half. My rating would have been a 9 or 10 if judging the first half only as he had nowt to do in the second. One tackle in particular in our own box which he got spot on was top drawer stuff. can't believe this is the same player who we've ridiculed for so long. an unsung hero of this run if ever ive saw one and yet more proof that a lot of us get some things wrong.

Coloccini - 7. So composed without being flash. Leads by example and is the calming influence when the pressure is on.

Debuchy - 9. Running out of plaudits for this player now because when we don't need to defend he just decides he wants to attack and is a brilliant overlap. Linked up excellently with Ben Arfa on the right.

Sissoko - 7. Disappointment me in the first half with some slack play. i thought he should have slotted in midfield rather than wander around up front. Improved in the second half.

Cabaye - 9. So instrumental during the whole game and his engine is unbelievable. Will be a key player against Arsenal.

Anita - 7. He didn't have a bad game and didn't really put a pass wrong but I got the impression that he wasn't needed in this game as he seemed like he was taking up space that we didn't need. Difficult to explain what i really mean but it was no surprise to see him sacrificed for a target man.

Ben Arfa - 9. first half was played in the wrong position for me but in the second he was so Peter Beardsley like in his attitude, his skill, movement and gameplay. Just magical to watch in the second half.

Gouffran - 8. yet another unsung hero and yet another goal to add to his non stop workrate. Can see him getting in the France squad before the world cup if he plays well against Arsenal and the other 'big boys'

Remy - 8. Must be a nightmare to mark as his off the ball running is so hard to track as he always changes his pattern. add this to his pace and you have some striker. showed good reactions for his headed goal in the second half as well. a definite buy for me if we can.


Shola - 7. was a nuisance and made more of an impression that Anita was allowed to

Haidara - 7. linked up well on the left and shows great mentality by his spirit to battle on after yet another horrible challenge to add to the assault at Wigan last year and that other one the other week against Southampton. Will be first choice left back within a year or so.

Cisse - 7. needed that goal and he showed it. hopefully this allows him to go on a run now.

Pardew Watch - Didn't panic when we went a goal down like some of the crowd did, who then started to get a bit animated towards some mistakes we made, which didn't help. Went to speak to the Stoke dugout at one point and I couldn't think what for as the red cards were deserved.

Crowd - started off a bit subdued but got into it in the second half with a decent enough atmosphere and not to many 'Pardew is our king' chants. One lad had to be dragged out by the stewards just below me in the second half. don't know why but he looked like he was gonna lamp someone.

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The Journalist

Writer: TNMW Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday December 27 2013

Time: 8:54PM


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