Newcastle relying on French duo
Loic Remy & Hatem Ben Arfa will be key to Newcastle this season
Alan Pardew will be hoping he can keep Hatem Ben Arfa and Loic Remy fit, as the pair will prove pivotal in Newcastle's season.
As Loic Remy headed in from close range after just ten minutes on Saturday, Newcastle United director of football Joe Kinnear, looked slightly smug as his one-and-only summer signing looked to have set-the-tone for a good afternoon.
Owner, Mike Ashley, seemed happy as the pair entangled themselves in close discussion. However, even after Remy's third goal for the Toon, events turned sour as Steve Bruce's side stole the points with a spectacular volley from Sone Aluko.
Another disappointing result at St James' Park left the home fans booing. Pardew's team have collected just four points from a possible nine at home this season, with games against West Ham United and Hull City representing winnable fixtures.
Newcastle won eight of their 19 home matches last campaign, with only a strong finish to the season securing survival.
Striker Papiss Cisse is still struggling for form and goals, albeit scoring in the Capital One Cup win against Leeds on Wednesday night. The Senegalese scored just 12 goals in all competitions last season and hasn't looked like regaining that devastating initiative in front of goal.
For this reason, as well as their lack of depth up front, Pardew will need his number ten and number 14, to produce the creativity and goalscoring that Demba Ba and Cisse exhibited on so many occasions before the former left for Chelsea.
Ben Arfa and Remy are the club's leading goalscorers so far this season, but an improved contribution from Cisse would surely help lift the Tyneside club away from their early predicament.
Firstly, the Newcastle number ten will need to avoid the injuries that have hindered his Premier League career so far. Ben Arfa suffered a broken leg in his first season at the club after a hefty Nigel De Jong tackle. He also missed most of last season with a hamstring injury before injuring himself again, shortly after his return.
Remy has looked sharp both creatively and in front of goal. His added enthusiasm and pace off-the-bench, helped to steel the three points at home to Fulham. Against Hull, both of his goals displayed the strikers eye for goal, anticipating the situation immediately and producing the finish to match.
If Newcastle are to avoid a relegation battle this season, they will need their front line to produce regularly. Johan Gouffran is showing his ability to score goals but with Cisse likely to play-when-fit, the team is in dyer need for the striker to prove his worth.
Should the Magpies find themselves facing the drop come May, the inevitable finger will be pointed at the appointment of Kinnear, and therefore at Ashley.
However, if the inspiration of Ben Arfa and Remy help Newcastle's talented squad to a mid-table finish, an improvement on last season will have been achieved, with the added bonus of having spent just over £2 million.
The squad at Pardew's disposal is full of promising and proven talent, on it's day, well worthy of a top-half finish like in 2011/12.
Upcoming games are looking tough with back-to-back away trips to Everton and Cardiff respectively. Newcastle then face Liverpool at home before a huge match against rivals Sunderland followed by the visit of Chelsea.
For this run of matches, Pardew will need everything from his players, especially Ben Arfa and Remy, who can offer that much-needed energy and class to win matches.
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