The Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has now gone back to the 4-2-3-1, which seemed to make a huge difference in the match. With Tiote and Anita providing cover for the midfield, the likes of Cisse, Guttierez and Marveaux were offered the chance to flex their muscles in the final third, while Demba Ba provided the main outlet up front.
The decision to play Anita and Tiote deeper provided more steel to the backline as Newcastle held on for their first clean sheet of the Premier League campaign. The team finally decided to keep the ball on the turf as only 51 long balls were played, much lower than Newcastle’s average of 66.5 long balls per game. An 87% pass completion rate from the team also made things easier in the game.
For the first time in a long while, Lady Luck was smiling on Newcastle. A blatant shove from Manuel Figueroa on Papiss Cisse resulted in a Newcastle penalty. Referee Mike Jones deemed the challenge as a disruption to a clean goal-scoring opportunity and that was it for Figueroa for the night. The decision left the game heavily balanced in Newcastle’s favour and they rode home the advantage for the rest of the game.
However, Martinez set his side out really well in the second half as it was Wigan who went on the front foot and took the game to Newcastle. There were nervy moments at the back with Di Santo and Kone always threatening to break away. Stam kept probing away on the right as Wigan gave as good an account any ten man side could give. Then Bigirimana’s wonder strike late on sealed it at Tyneside. There was a sigh of relief from the home side when the 3rd went in to clinch the Magpies’ first victory in their last 6 games.
The rumours of Demba Ba leaving Tyneside never cease and with the performance he put in against the Latics, it sure isn’t looking likely that they are going to die any time soon. The brace from the Senegalese international takes his tally to 33 goals in 61 appearances in the Premier League. There may or may not be a 7.5 million pound clause in his contract but it will keep the fans on the banks of the river Tyne on their edges, till the January window slams shut.
Vurnon Anita looked out of his depth early in the season and drew gasps from the Geordies whenever he was on the ball. Lately however, the Dutchman is proving to be yet another shrewd piece of business by Newcastle as he has easily been the best midfielder in the last few games. Anita was his energetic recent self in the match, closing down the Wigan midfielders and putting in lung-busting box to box runs in yet another impressive display at the heart of the engine room.
Marveaux on the other hand looks like a new signing for Pardew. With 9 first-team players in the medical room, he provided a breath of fresh air. The Frenchman missed the majority of the campaign last season with a groin injury and looked a shadow of his former self early in the campaign. Marveaux was designated a free role, mainly playing in the hole but popping up on the wings as well. A couple of magical runs saw him getting the Newcastle fans off their seats, only to see him scuff his shot on both occasions.
Who are you and what have you done with my Papiss?
This was a general feeling amongst the Newcastle supporters as Cisse gave another listless display on the field. Newcastle fans thought that a goal in the midweek fixture against Stoke would see a return to form for the other Demba. Like most games this season, Cisse looks a shadow of the player that averaged a goal a game in Newcastle’s fairy tale campaign last season. Caught offside several times and looking hesitant and rushed on the ball, Cisse has the fans at Newcastle apprehensive.