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When the famous five are on song, Newcastle United are on song

By Lee Ryder on Oct 6, 12 07:17 AM


For the first time since the days of Bobby Robson, Newcastle United fans can walk through Gallowgate and out of their favourite watering holes on a match day with confidence that their side are capable of beating the best in the land if their star men are - as Alan Pardew would put it - "At it."

In Demba Ba. Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote, the Magpies have a five star service they can rely on in the Premier League these days and Geordie fans will be hoping they can all step up to the plate against Manchester United tomorrow.

This season we are yet to see them all perform at their top level at the same time but there have been several excellent individual performances from the famous five sprinkled throughout what has been a mixed opening to the season.

Last season the Magpies were at their best for long periods when this group were in fine form, and a large chunk of that coincided with the bulk of a six game winning run.

When Cheick Tiote is fully composed and up for battle there aren't many better combative midfielders in Europe.

Hatem Ben Arfa's ability to run at teams, provide ammo for his team-mates, score goals and generally strike the fear of God into defences is there for all to see.

Yohan Cabaye is the pass master who is capable of unlocking defences and offering the side great movement in the middle, and he has a cheeky eye for goal as part of the bargain - something he can continue to improve on.

Then you have Demba Ba, six goals should say it all, but the Senegal striker is about so much more than that.

Even when Ba was playing wide on the left last season, he still caused defences a headache and created openings for others.

This season he has been in sensational form.

As for Papiss Cisse, the poacher is starting to liven up again after an indifferent start to the campaign.

Cup goals have re-energised his season in the last three games but the best is hopefully still to come from the number 9.

Against Man United all five will need to be at the races - because even when Alex Ferguson's teams are playing at 60% they can wipe out a side that are just going through the motions.

Newcastle v Man United games, in my opinion, is second only to the Tyne-Wear derby in terms of intensity in the build-up and during the hard fought 90 minutes.

In recent years Man United have obviously been streets ahead of Newcastle.

But last season's 3-0 win at St James' Park and the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford showed that Newcastle now have the tools to win this type of game.

Life is hunky dory for Newcastle as we go into this game on the back of news that Alan Pardew signed a new eight year deal along with his coaching staff.

However, the mood could change very quickly on Tyneside in the next two games - whatever way they go at Gallowgate and on Wearside in the derby against Sunderland.

Win both and the euphoria will sweep around the city like wild fire.

Avoid defeat in both and many would accept it as a mark of solidity and the mark of a team that are hard to beat.

Lose both and talk of the squad's lack of depth and unwillingness to invest in the summer in terms of senior signings will begin to bite hard and fast.

Hopefully that's where the famous five come in.

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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