Ahead of Sunday’s visit of Newcastle United to White Hart Lane, we caught up with one of their own to ask some questions on the Premier League clash…
I suspect I may have asked you this before but, who are you and why are you a Newcastle fan?
My name is Mark Ferguson (writer for Newcastle United News), I’ve supported Newcastle all of my life. Growing up and living in a football mad house in Newcastle, there was only going to be one outcome. Although times may get hard and frustrating, there is no turning back.
From the sidelines it looks as though Newcastle are having a season that is the dictionary definition of erratic. Losing to Sunderland and then beating Chelsea? What’s going on?
We’ve had the entertainers in the past, now we have the unpredicatbles, you just never know what you’re going to get or which Newcastle are going to turn up. We possess a lot of quality players and our starting line-up is strong on paper, but names don’t win games and we need to make sure the commitment and effort is there for every game – something that went missing against a struggling Sunderland side.
How was it that you beat Chelsea? Were they very bad or were you very good?
To say Chelsea were bad would be a massive discredit to Newcastle, we nullified the threat of Juan Mata, Oscar, and Eden Hazard and cut off the supply to Fernando Torres who as a result was anonymous. There were some moments when we really had to dig in and that’s exactly what we did, showing resilience throughout. Yohan Cabaye’s delivery for the Yoan Gouffran’s opener was nothing short of first-class and he has been influential since returning after his summer transfer saga. Moving on, Loic Remy provides us with a genuine threat and in his current form, he always looks good for a goal. Vurnon Anita unlocked the Chelsea defence with a magnificent piece of skill before teeing up Remy to do what he does best.
Loic Remy appears to be getting some key goals, how is he being received on Tyneside? I’m sure people were suspicious of him at first given his turning down a move previously and then having his collar felt?
The Newcastle fans love attacking football and we’re a much better attacking side with Loic Remy involved. He’s pacey and explosive and can wreak havoc amongst any defence in the league. Best of all, he knows where the goal is and as long as he’s putting in 100% every week and scoring goals, Newcastle fans will love him.
And talking of those that folk were once suspicious of, what’s the view on Pardew now, has he (and the rest of the Cockney Mafia) become more accepted?
Alan Pardew certainly divides opinion. His tactics were spot on against Chelsea. However, in what should have been a moment of true glory he came out and dedicated the win to Ashley – not a wise thing to do given the animosity caused by banning the local media from the club. There is certainly a feeling that the club is in the wrong hands with Ashley solely content on staying in the league. Under the current ownership the club certainly lacks direction and ambition.
You’ll doubtless be aware of our defence’s reputation thus far this season. How do you think Pardew will set about trying to breach it? I ask as he’s shown moments of tactical naivete at White Hart Lane before, notably two seasons ago in the midweek post-Redknapp-escaping-the-shackles game.
I expect that Pardew’s tactical approach won’t be too dissimilar to that of the Chelsea game. Organised, disciplined and hard working without the ball and happy to let Spurs have possession playing a 4-4-2 formation. Whilst Remy is effective of the left flank he’s at his best up front and through the middle, playing on the shoulder of the last defender and I think he will be the danger man on the day. Personally I would like to see Hatem Ben Arfa play just behind him, on his day he can change any game, but Pardew is still unsure as to where he’s most effective.
And you’ll also doubtless be aware of our inability to notch at the other end. Who is the most likely Geordie defender to give us the penalty we seem to need to get a lead these days?
He had a solid game against Chelsea, but Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has struggled to adapt to life in the Premier League and clumsy defending has seen him caught out in the past. He was also sent off against Liverpool for a professional foul on Luis Suarez which cost us our lead and left to us to fight with ten men for much of the game.
Have you seen much of Spurs so far this season? Anyone impressed you at all? Townsend, Paulinho, Soldado?
Yes. I watched the Everton match on Sunday and thought Jan Vertonghen was absolutely outstanding. Extremely versatile defender who can play centre-half or left-back and looks comfortable at either position. Spurs’ right-hand side is arguably one of the strongest in the league with Kyle Walker and Andros Townsend complementing each other. The pair have been in magnificent form for both club and country, especially Townsend. His pace and trickery is frightening and Davide Santon is going to have to be on his metal if he is to stop him. He’s comfortable on either foot and a danger both inside and outside with terrific ability to strike a ball while drifting in off the right. Paulinho’s work may go unnoticed but he is the engine of the team and looks a complete box-to-box midfielder. Another highly influential player in the midfield has been Christian Eriksen who is at the heart of everything. Without him in the team, Spurs lack creativity and I feel he is the key to unlock defences. He was sorely missed against Everton.
Who should we be looking out for in a Newcastle shirt?
The obvious one is the man in form, Loic Remy. With six goals in black and white, he’s made an immediate impact and is Newcastle’s biggest threat going forward. In terms of who is the most influential player in the Newcastle side, it has to be Yohan Cabaye. His range of passing is superb and he carries a threat with his ability to strike the ball from range. He also showed how good his delivery from set-pieces can be against Chelsea.
And finally, a score prediction.
Despite playing in the Europa League in midweek I think Spurs should have enough on the day. I predict a close encounter with Spurs winning 2-1 in the end.
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