Dear top five in the Premier League standings, We see you up there. We're coming up whether you like it or not.
Happy Wednesday, loyal viewers! A little later start for me means a little later arrival for the links, but here they come. I searched very very hard to find another link about the naming of the stadium... but nothing new on that front. Ok- that's a lie on both parts. There are new stories (not necessarily new information) on it, but we've pretty well figured out what we're going to figure out about it, I think.
It is a short week with the match coming on Good Friday, and the links are gradually shifting to a focus on Swansea City. Toss in a couple of player-specific stories and a couple of not-necessarily-pitch-related stories and you get the CHN Links. Take the jump and read some goodness!
How Did We Get Here?
I will respect his authority and keep my philosophy whether I play or not," he told L'Equipe in an interview earlier this year when asked about Pardew. "For me, football is a game based on lots of movements and passes. The coach likes the long, direct game. He often says, 'cross it in the box', but I completely respect that philosophy. I will not start any arguments, my time will come and I just have to be patient. I am ready both physically and mentally." Pardew has timed his recall of Ben Arfa well, starting him in the last three matches, bringing life when Newcastle would have been expected to fade.
This story is actually a couple of days old (which I didn't notice until after I had clicked through and read a bit of it)... but I'm going to put it in anyway. It covers a lot of the popular stories of the last week: Graham Carr, Hatem Ben Arfa, the name change of St. James' Park... I liked the HBA section a lot.
The length and breadth of what United’s hierarchy refer to as "homework" is impressive. Tips from cab drivers, bar owners and tuned-in local journalists are hungrily devoured and placed alongside exhaustive technical reports. A senior source told The Journal: "Basically, we don’t sign a player these days unless we know which foot they put their sock on first. It is that much detail. "That means his personality, his character – as well as how he plays in rain, snow, sleet and sunshine.
Our success this season has inspired every journo and their dog to look in and try to figure out why we have not met expectations this year. Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly happy not meeting expectations of a relegation scrap. If you are fine with this as well, then I think we can agree to agree and go on challenging for Europe. (BTW- How are the "Top Dogs of the Northeast" doing these days?) This one starts more into Graham Carr and works around to a couple of other points.
Players, Swansea and More
They have seen Papiss Cisse's like before. They know what it is to cherish a number nine in these parts. But though this is the club of Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and Jackie Milburn, it is Andy Cole who springs immediately to mind when the Newcastle United supporters watch Cisse play. Not since Cole have Newcastle boasted a striker so potent, so direct and so gloriously uncomplicated.
Whoever you would like to compare Papiss Cisse to, I'm good. We've heard Shearer and Cole this week. If he keeps scoring, he can be Pele for all I care. I got to thinking... if Cisse keeps performing as he is and Demba Ba breaks his duck... ummm... Wow. Anyway, this is a pretty nice piece on Papiss from SI.
Ben Arfa will head to Swansea City with an impressive stat pack with those five assists sitting nicely alongside six goals. And that’s not a bad tally considering Ben Arfa has started just 13 matches this term.
One of the links today pointed out that the Pardew switch to a 4-3-3 to help accomodate Hatem Ben Arfa came at a time in the season where the club could conceivably hit a stagnant spell in which they may have struggled to stay in the top 6 as it seems certain they will finish this season. It has really worked a treat as Newcastle have taken 9 points from their last three matches, including 3 from Liverpool where 1 or 0 would not have surprised very many in the Toon Army. Which is it? Brilliant timing from Alan Pardew to play a fresh, unscouted style for these last matches of the season? Conincidence? Both?
However, the odds are seemingly against the 24-year-old – one of the few players left from Newcastle’s last visit to Swansea two years ago – proving his fitness in time to face Brendan Rodgers’s side. "Danny pulled his calf – we’ll have to see," Pardew told the Gazette. Should Guthrie fail to prove his fitness, Pardew would most likely push Jonas Gutierrez back into midfield, the club’s stand-in captain having played at left-back against Liverpool.
I'm a little sad if Guthrie misses out. The midfield trio of Guthrie, Cabaye and Tiote did extremely well against Lieverpool and would have been a solid starting point v. Swansea. I think that if he's out, it's easy to assume Jonas back into midfield and slot Raylor or Santon in at left back, and that may very well be what happens, but I would not at all be surprised to see Jonas stay at left back behind Dan Gosling, Cabaye and Tiote. Santon is going to be a star for this club, but I'm not sure with his current mindset he is what we want to have at left back where there is not a midfielder to cover when he goes marauding.
The club last competed on the continent five seasons ago, but Pardew is reluctant to look beyond the Swansea fixture. "We’ve had a focus all year about the next game," said Pardew. "We shouldn’t get away from that, and neither should our fans. "They can dream of the Champions League, or winning the league – I don’t mind. It’s great for them that we’re in the mix. We’ll just go to the next game."
#LetsGetCarriedAway -- That is all.
And Swansea have managed all that despite the fact that their budget is minuscule compared to those of most clubs among the elite. "I think our supporters sense the mismatch we face in nearly every game and they appreciate the effort our players have put in," Rodgers added. "People aren't talking about us being the underdog in a game now, but our fans always remember we are because they understand where our players have come from. They know we don't have the resources. "We will play Newcastle on Friday, and it's not even talked about that they have spent £9 million on (Papiss) Cisse, £5 million on (Yohan) Cabaye and £5 million on (Davide) Santon. But that just shows you how far our players have elevated themselves and their club this season.
The parts about Newcastle in this story were a strange read for me. While nothing Brendan Rodgers says here is wrong, it just seems very strange to cast Newcastle as "The Big Spending Giant". Perhaps from an outside perspective it does not feel as strange, but having lived through the last 18 months or so it has never felt like we're guilty of that particular charge. I understand that Papiss Cisse was the most expensive player purchased in January, but he really figures to be an outlier.
These Are Pretty Cool
Geordie fan and artist Michael Atkinson produces a series of minimalist Newcastle United posters. The crowd goes wild.
It's worth a moment of your time to click through and look at these. Very cool.