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Delighted Pardew urges Newcastle to end 2013 on a high
ALAN PARDEW last night hailed Newcastle United's magnificent end to 2013, and urged his players to produce a final hurrah when they entertain Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday.
ON THE SLIDE: Stoke City’s Wilson Palacios tries to tackle Newcastle’s two-goal striker Loic Remy
The Magpies remain in the top six after recording an emphatic 5-1 win over Stoke City yesterday that saw the visitors reduced to nine men as Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson were both dismissed before the break.
Newcastle took full advantage, with Loic Remy's double, and further strikes from Yoan Gouffran, Yohan Cabaye and Papiss Cisse more than cancelling out Oussama Assaidi's 29th-minute opener.
The win was the Magpies' seventh in their last nine matches, a run that has catapulted them into the thick of the chase for a European spot and even ignited hopes of a return to the Champions League.
Newcastle trail league leaders Arsenal by six points, and with Arsene Wenger's side due to visit Tyneside this weekend, the year could end with the Magpies within a win of top spot.
“We've been on an incredible run, and I don't think any team can beat what we've done over the last eight or nine games, even Arsenal,” said Pardew. “We've set ourselves up for what will be an intriguing encounter on Sunday, and we'll probably know a bit more about this team after Arsenal.
“But I look at the team and we have some tremendous assets that haven't even been seen for a while. Hatem (Ben Arfa) did some unbelievable things today, Papiss scored and Shola (Ameobi) made another telling contribution. Young Massadio (Haidara) also showed his influence with that left foot of his.
“We've got a lot of assets in the background and it's about keeping rolling along and winning as many games as we can.”
Yesterday's win owed much to the controversial double dismissal that saw referee Martin Atkinson dismiss both Whelan and Wilson within the space of three first-half minutes.
Whelan received a yellow card for kicking the ball away, and was then dismissed for a hack at Cabaye. Wilson was penalised for a professional foul as he hauled down Remy in the area.
Stoke boss Mark Hughes, who was sent to the stands, did not feel that either player should have been sent off, but Pardew felt that Atkinson got things right.
“The game changed on a couple of decisions that, on reflection, I haven't really got a problem with,” he said. “I thought Whelan's first booking was slightly harsh. Maybe Yohan was at fault himself and was lucky to get away without a yellow card, but the second one I have no issue with.
“Yohan gets a lot of bad treatment and I didn't think that tackle had any intention to get the ball. He (Whelan) gets sent off, and then a really clever pass from (Vurnon) Anita changes the game because they lose a second player, which was definitely a sending off, and the game is completely turned on its head.”
Pardew was dismayed to see Remy rather than Cabaye taking the subsequent spot-kick, and the Frenchman saw his penalty saved by Thomas Sorensen.
However, Remy finished the game with two goals to his name as Newcastle ran riot with a feast of attacking football in the second half.
“I was incensed with the penalty because Yohan should have been taking that,” said Pardew. “We spoke about that at half-time.
“But I also spoke to the players at the break and asked the team to be clinical in the second half. I wanted us to break quickly, and it couldn't have gone any better. We were very good in that second half.”
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