Premier League review: Newcastle continue to impress
Alex Sharp looks back at the eighth instalment of top flight action as Newcastle fought back to earn a draw
Welcome back from the international break. Once again we had English anguish, this time courtesy of the Wayne Rooney saga. But all is rosy in the black-and-white half of Tyneside.
For generations Newcastle have produced and invested in some supreme talent. Cast your mind back to the 90s and the likes of David Ginola, Alan Shearer, Faustino Asprilla, and Phillip Albert’s moustache – or the 80s with Gazza – and further back to the days of Keegan.
Under Alan Pardew, the Magpies lie fourth in the Premier League after eight games and somehow remain unbeaten. Fans, journalists and pundits are already getting carried away with the potential of their season but thus far it really has been a superb effort.
Who would have thought after the calls for the “˜London Mafia’ to leave and relegation that Newcastle could appear stable, resolute and consistent on the pitch?
A lot of credit must go to Pardew. He has invested shrewdly when Mike Ashley has been hesitant to splash the cash. The 2-2 draw against Tottenham on Sunday epitomised their approach this season. They came back from a goal down twice and managed to fend off heavy pressure in the closing stages.
The fans on Tyneside have always deserved better and the 50,000-plus flooding into St James’ park every week are now starting to believe.
Yohan Cabaye from Lille this summer was a great signing with his agility and creativity and, having lambasted the owners for not investing in a striker, Pardew now finds himself with Demba Ba and Leon Best in fantastic form and supplying regular goals. Even Shola Ameobi is threatening to contribute after his cracking equaliser on Sunday.
Wigan, Blackburn, Stoke and Everton are next up for the Magpies – all winnable fixtures that could stabilise the club as a European threat this season.
Can it last? Sadly not. They have a very limited squad and will probably eventually be caught up by Liverpool, Tottenham or Arsenal.
The main point of contention won’t be on the pitch because Pardew has created a hungry, energetic squad. The problem could be Ashley. He didn’t speak to Pardew for two months over the summer, apparently because he was unhappy with the team conceding a three-goal lead to West Brom at the back of the last campaign.
If true, that is bizarre, destructive and shows he has very little capabilities in running a football club. For now, the Geordie faithful will just have to be thankful he is not interfering – because if he does it could all turn sour.
Back down in the Big Smoke, and a true delight this weekend was the performance of Arsenal talisman Robin van Persie. The Dutchman, who has now scored 23 goals in 25 League games in 2011, led the Gunners’ line superbly.
His movement, vision and execution is second to none and if Arsenal lose him to the inevitable injury they could be in a whole lot of trouble. A reliance on Van Persie is a very dangerous game.
His two goals were exceptional pieces of art and saved Arsenal more blushes – but his real masterpiece came in the first half where he recreated the Dennis Bergkamp.
Van Persie swivelled past his marker on the edge of the area in one motion, trapped the ball and attempted a delightful chip over Simon Mignolet. Unfortunately for Gunners fans the ball ricocheted off the post, but the vision and audacity had Arsenal fans reminiscing about the Bergkamp years again.
ArsÃ¨ne Wenger’s side are finally in the top half but the result at The Emirates does little to cover over the cracks still evident in Arsenal’s back line.