Two big wins for Newcastle, but they must keep eyes on the ball

Posted by Marc Duffy

Newcastle's recent wins against Chelsea at home (2-0) and Tottenham away (1-0) give them a great platform to build on heading into their next two fixtures, both of which are at home.

A few people got a little bit carried away with Sunday's win at White Hart Lane -- praise was freely dished out to Alan Pardew for his tactics and quite a few heralded what they believed was a fine defensive display, though in my opinion neither of these things were true.

Newcastle were very good in the first half and were more than a match for Tottenham, playing a high-tempo pressure game. Spurs weren't given the chance to settle and few would argue with the scoreline going into the break.

Quite what Pardew says in that dressing room during halftime I don't know but sluggish, cautious second halves have been a feature of his time as Newcastle manager. Sunday was no different with Newcastle's harrying and hassling abandoned in favour of a sit deep and soak it up approach.

Newcastle won through the sheer brilliance of Tim Krul. His display was one of the best I've ever seen from a Newcastle keeper -- or from any Premier League keeper for that matter. And while individuals in the back four contributed -- Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa's incredible goal-line clearance, Mike Williamson's aerial domination, a truly great defensive performance wouldn't allow the opposition an incredible 31 shots with 14 on target! To put it into perspective that's 20 more shots than Liverpool had when they won 6-0 at St James' Park in April.

However a goalkeeper is as valid a part of the team as anyone, and the importance of a great keeper was highlighted spectacularly. If Tottenham can't get past him -- tough. It's goals that win games and Loic Remy's winner was great.

Newcastle now have just under two weeks to prepare for their next game -- the visit of Chris Hughton and Norwich Nov. 23. The week after that, West Brom head to Tyneside.

Six points from these two games would put Newcastle in a really strong position with 23 points from 13 matches. However there is a widely held belief that Newcastle are prone to unlikely home slip-ups under Pardew. Does this ring true statistically?

Newcastle have played 54 home Premier League games under Pardew. Their overall record stands at:

Played: 54 Won: 26 (48 percent) Draws: 13 (24 pct.) Losses: 15 (28 pct.)
Goals for: 86 Against: 71

It's not the best record, but it's reasonable. It is quite concerning that Newcastle have conceded three or more goals 10 times in this period -- once every five or six games on average! They've scored three or more 11 times.

The 15 defeats include Hull City, Sunderland, Reading, West Brom, West Ham and Swansea. Of course, Newcastle aren't going to win every game, but they need to tighten up against these sides if they are to make real league progress.

On the plus side, they beat both Norwich and West Brom at St James' last season in a year that saw them lose more home games than they did in the disastrous relegation season.

The international break might actually be arriving at a bad time -- the players, particularly some of the French lads, are looking more and more confident and have been back to their best. Yohan Cabaye, Moussa Sissoko, Matthieu Debuchy and Remy have all gone off with the French squad for the World Cup playoff games against Ukraine.

For the sake of Newcastle United I hope they remain injury-free and come back with even more confidence!

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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