Saturday 22 October 2011 3pm
Newcastle United 1 (Cabaye 81)
“Everyone can see Newcastle are a big traditional club with a massive support and they have a special environment in which to play their football. It will only be a matter of time before they’re in the top six but you’re talking about teams who have been playing in the Champions League for six or seven years and have invested huge sums of money. Newcastle are in the process of doing that, but potentially they’re as good as anybody in European football”. Roberto Martinez
Today was a reality check that to beat any team in the Premier League you have to be on your game. Wigan left pointless and bottom of the league but on the evidence of today and what we’ve seen so far they are no worse than half of the teams in the league.
Maybe though that is where touches of class like Yohan Cabaye’s goal make the difference, including a very cool lay-off from Marveaux, where other players might have just swung wildly themselves.
Newcastle improved but Wigan seemed set for a draw until the scorcher from Cabaye which he placed in the top corner from outside the box. Level on points with third-placed Chelsea, Marveaux(…less).
Wigan had made half-chances and at least matched our lot for possession
It took half an hour before our first chance which fell to Best but his header was comfortably saved. Credit to Best for his workrate but I still feel he needs half a dozen chances to put one away which will be a worry when Ba isn’t on the pitch.
Alan Pardew wasted no time in changing things and brought on Hatem Ben Arfa for Best at half-time which led to the Newcastle making a much-improved start to the second period.
Demba Ba hadn’t really been in the game but should have opened the scoring with a near post header which he didn’t get enough on, allowing the keeper to save.
United began to turn on the pressure, but Wigan dug in and looked increasingly likely to grab a point.
Ben Arfa’s excellent shot after a jinking run was beaten out by Al Habsi but with 10 minutes remaining substitute Sylvain Marveaux laid the ball back for Cabaye who struck a first-time shot high into the corner of the net and send us all home happy….and relieved.
As usual there was a last minute scare but a low cross went unpunished and we could breath again, even if the air is getting a bit rarefied at these heady heights of the Premier League.
Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan (Sylvain Marveaux 76), Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best (Hatem Ben Arfa 46), Demba Ba (Shola Ameobi 68).
Subs not used: Steve Harper, Davide Santon, James Perch, Alan Smith.
Wigan Athletic: Ali Al Habsi, Emmerson Boyce, Antolin Alcaraz, Gary Caldwell (c), Maynor Figueroa, Ben Watson (James McArthur 82), Albert Crusat (Conor Sammon 81), Mohamed Diame, David Jones, Victor Moses, Hugo Rodallega.
Subs not used: Mike Pollitt, Adrian Lopez, Hendry Thomas, Shaun Maloney, Jordi Gomez.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick