1) Papiss Cisse
It’s not been a vintage Newcastle season and the loss of Demba Ba in January hurt the club considerably – the only consolation for the Magpies was they still had Papiss Cisse who is their highest scorer this season.
The Senegalese striker featured in all but two of Newcastle’s league games, scoring 8 goals and making 4 assists, helping his side out of some tricky scraps under increasingly difficult circumstances for the manager Alan Pardew.
He’s been strong and led the line well in Ba’s absence but, unfortunately, he’s missed far too many chances this term. He’s had flashes of brilliance and possesses undeniable quality – the only problem has been how infrequently he’s demonstrated that.
However, he’s popped up when it counted and when his side really needed 3 points, he’s delivered.
2) Yohan Cabaye
Undoubtedly the Magpies most technically gifted player, Yohan Cabaye has been the light in the dark for the club this term.
It’s a case of ‘if only’ in terms of his fitness – they really missed him in the early stages of the season but he’s managed to put in 26 appearances this term, scored 6 goals and made 2 assists.
He’s their creative nucleus and the architect of their game – the maker of all things good. Unfortunately, the high number of new arrivals in January meant the fluidity and cohesion of the team was affected and Cabaye’s creative wavelength wasn’t always matched by his teammates.
3) Jonas Gutierrez
The Magpies’ most hardworking and consistent performers this term has been Jonas Gutierrez who is the unsung hero of Pardew’s team in my estimation.
He always gives 110% and injects energy to the play down that left flank where he is tireless in his efforts for the team.
He’s featured in 34 games, playing 2890 minutes of Premier League football – his 1 goal and 2 assists don’t do justice to how diligent and committed he is – Pardew could use a lot more characters like the Argentine in his side.
He drags himself up and down the flank game in game out - his crossing and take-ons make him a very very good winger but this term he’s displayed his desire and determination when it’s counted – he’s chased back and defended so many times this term you could have mistaken him for a left back.
4) Moussa Sissoko
One of Pardew’s most astute January buys was Moussa Sissoko who came in and hit and the ground running at St James’ Park to great effect. Pardew definitely needed reinforcements brought into his squad and Sissoko has been a key player in 2013.
He’s made 12 appearances, scored 3 goals and brought protection to the perpetually changing and unstable backline. Injuries undoubtedly played the biggest part in Newcastle’s disappointing term but it could have been much much worse had it not been for this fellow.
He seems far more mature than his 23 years and his physical presence in the middle of the park has been crucial to the Magpies’ top tier survival. When he comes out of that holding position, he storms forward to catalyze attacking play to great affect. There’s definitely more to come from him.
5) Tim Krul
68 goals conceded is unacceptable for a club as massive as Newcastle United. However, it could have been so much worse were it not for Tim Krul.
He’s not been helped by the constant mend and make-do in defence that’s been unavoidable and, to a degree, circumstantial but he’s made so many key saves, the stats at a glance don’t do him justice.
In fact, the Dutchman has made more saves than any keeper outside the top five teams this term with 75 in 24 appearances, keeping four clean sheets. He is a world class stopper and, my word, they’ve needed him.
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