Newcastle United 2 (Ben Arfa 69, Ba 71 )
Our match preview strongly urged the manager to start with Ben Arfa but that if he persevered with Leon Best Newcastle would still be ok, we were half right.
Bolton are truly atrocious and will go down this season, make no mistake. As for Best, he is a striker that struggles to score goals and when his general play is as abysmal as this it is like playing with ten men.
I know there are fans out there who don’t like anybody criticising any player but this is a lot different to booing your own players, failing to point out that some players just aren’t anywhere good enough is as bad as those who go along and boo.
“You have got to understand your weaknesses as a team and we exposed our weaknesses against West Brom and today we didn’t expose those weaknesses we showed our strengths, disciplined, technical team that can create a moment and we created a moment today and we got the goal” Alan Pardew
Anyway, I’m convinced that with Ben Arfa on from the start we would have been away and gone by half-time, Bolton are now a terrible combination of average to really poor players playing with next to no confidence. All we needed to do was knock the ball around a bit and have some composure, instead we were more 80% long balls from Krul.
Cabaye beavered away but United did their level best to give Bolton a lifeline, not that they ever looked like scoring but as we know from experience, give a poor team a goal and suddenly their confidence levels soar as they have something to hang onto. One good free-kick save and a couple of brave punches from Krul were the total needed for him as the second-half beckoned.
Very surprisingly Pardew stayed with the same eleven after the turn around and Newcastle continued to be only marginally the better team.
On the hour mark Ben Arfa (at last) for Best and I wouldn’t say it was an instant transformation as our enigmatic Frenchman played himself into the match with a couple of good touches and a similar number of poor ones.
Eight minutes after his appearance though, Raylor found space on the left and his low cross into the box was dispatched with great technique by Ben Arfa’s left foot. Another two minutes on and with Bolton totally in pieces, Obertan’s similar low cross from the right was guided into the top corner by Ba via the woodwork.
A couple of minutes of quality and composure which I’m afraid to say would never have happened if Best had remained on the pitch.
Some fans (including some with me during the game) would have said at 0-0 ‘Oh well a point wouldn’t be too bad as it will stop the slide..’.
“A really good second moment from Obertan who opened them up and we got our second and it was game over “ Alan Pardew
No! A draw against this rabble would be like a 6-0 howking off Liverpool on Friday.
The rot has stopped as in we have got a win for the first time since Bonfire Night but we have to take lessons as well as the three points from this match as we head towards new year. Leon Best cannot be allowed to keep Ben Arfa out of the team and let’s hope as a team they can take confidence from today with a winning clean sheet.
Our pre-match tips today included a win with clean sheet at 9-2 (hurrah) with BET365 and a recommendation to back Ben Arfa last goal at 17-2, let’s not be greedy!
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jussi Jaaskelainen, Dedryck Boyata, Zat Knight, Gary Cahill, Paul Robinson, Mark Davies, Fabrice Muamba (Chris Eagles 66), Nigel Reo-Coker, Martin Petrov, Ivan Klasnic (Kevin Davies 76), David Ngog (Tuncay 76).
Subs not used: Adam Bogdan, Sam Ricketts, David Wheater, Darren Pratley.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan (Shola Ameobi 85), Yohan Cabaye (James Perch 88), Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best (Hatem Ben Arfa 61), Demba Ba.
Subs not used: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, Haris Vuckic, Sammy Ameobi.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire)
Attendance: 26,080 (4,000 away fans)