Newcastle United’s front three the best in the Premier League?

Newcastle United’s first half display against West Brom was one of the best performances of this season as there three attacking players tore open Albion’s defence time and time again.

Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse all played a part in making it a torrid afternoon for their opposition and most teams in the country would have struggled against the pace and the movement of Newcastle’s front three. Hatem Ben Arfa had been criticised for his defensive work this season and this is why he struggled to get into Alan Pardew’s first 11 for a large part of the season but today proved why you cannot leave him out. He just gives the team something different, there are very few players in the world that can pick up the ball from inside their own half and beat three or four players before shooting or laying it off to someone else. He was simply unplayable in the first half and even in the second he managed to get on the ball and relieve some of the pressure that was being put on the defence.

The first goal was pretty simple but still required some craft as Jonas Gutierrez (he had a very good game and will not get the credit he deserves for his performance as the front three stole the limelight, any other game and he would have been close to man of the match) had to play through Ben Arfa who was not being tracked by a defender. His part in the goal was simple as all he had to do was put the ball across the six yard box which doesn’t seem that hard however we see it week after week that wingers struggle to put it in the right spot and the chance is missed. Demba Ba slid in and missed the ball but Papiss Cisse was on hand to finish first time, this does show natural strikers instinct from both of them as they were both onside but unchallenged. So it was fantastic movement from them both and very good concentration from Cisse as he had to watch the ball onto his foot and steer expertly into the net.

The second goal showed everyone what a quick counter attack is with Ben Arfa picking up the ball inside his own half and playing a few neat little passes with his teammates and then placing the ball past the diving Ben Foster. Cisse yet again played a part in the goal but the Frenchman will take all the credit as he ran a long way and there was no chance he was going to be stopped by the defence. His finish was pretty good too which any striker would have been proud of.

The third goal was pretty similar to the second as it was on the counter attack. Ben Arfa yet again picked up the ball deep and ran with it before sliding it to Ba who cleverly flicked it round the corner for Ben Arfa to put the ball into the danger area. It was slightly fortuitous as he was looking for Ba but he was bundled over and may have been awarded a penalty, and the ball rolled to Cisse who yet again produced a very good finish with his left foot.

A fantastic display from the Newcastle attackers but what I want to know is, why when Newcastle are performing well and have good attacking players do the defence look so weak and vulnerable to any attack? Mike Williamson had a shocker for the goal and he struggles when dealing with pace and movement. Danny Simpson is quite consistent but he does occasionally get beaten too easily and the winger has a clear cross or shot at goal. Davide Santon always looks more interested in attacking and taking players on. James Perch has actually proved he is quite good and was the best defender in the second half although he sometimes struggles too. When Coloccini went off injured the alarm bells must have been ringing in the Toon fans heads as he is a very good defender and is arguably one of the most in from defenders in the Premier League.

If they could sort out the defence Newcastle would certainly be a top 6 side consistently. This summer is massive for the Toon and if they can keep their best players and add to their defence they will have a very good chance of winning trophies which the fans desperately crave.

Papiss Cisse to sign for Newcastle

Newcastle United have once again shocked fans but this time somewhat surprisingly it is in a positive way. Papiss Demba Cisse is close to joining the club from German side Freiburg. The Senegalese striker is expected to sign before he goes away for the Africa Cup of Nations to join up with current Newcastle striker Demba Ba.

This may come as a surprise to the Toon faithful as they were not expecting to sign a striker this January because their manager Alan Pardew said it was unlikely they were going to sign one after Modibo Maiga failed a medical. There were rumours that they were in the market for other strikers and in particular Andy Carroll who left the club at this stage last season.

Mike Ashley will be hoping this will at least get the fans off his back for a short period of time after he controversially renamed St James’ Park, The Sports Direct Arena which caused a backlash not only from fans but also from pundits who categorically said they will always call the ground St James’ Park. Adding this to the many other things he has done such as sell the club’s best players such as Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton and then not spending a great deal of this money on replacements. All you have to look at is the fact that they sold for Carroll for £35 million and replaced him with Demba Ba who was a free transfer. Although, with Ba already hitting 15 goals for the club and Carroll struggling at Liverpool this seems to be a good decision.

But back to Cisse who has been on fire this year scoring nine goals in 15 games and last season scoring 24 goals in 34 games. He is the type of striker you need in your team because he is a great finisher and seems to put away a lot of chances as his goals to game ratio suggests. He likes to play on the last man and never panics when running through on goal in a one on one situation with the goalkeeper. A major plus for Newcastle is that he has played with Ba before with Senegal where he also has a good record scoring seven goals in 12 games. He is a goal scorer and the Newcastle fans will be hoping if and when he does sign that he can adapt to the Premier League quickly and aid them in their quest to finish in the top six this season.

However, there will be a few cynical Newcastle fans who will be thinking that they are only trying to sing Cisse because they have already accepted a bid from someone for their leading marksman Demba Ba. Therefore Mike Ashley has only signed Cisse as a replacement for Ba rather than to pair the two together, but in my opinion this seems unlikely as the two will be together with the Senegal squad and surely Ba will have a major influence on whether he signs. If he is leaving why would he tell another player to join the club?