Full-time: West Ham United 1 Newcastle United 3
WHEN Yohan Cabaye joined in the post-match celebrations with his team-mates after Newcastle United's latest away day win at Upton Park, the strong band of travelling fans let their feelings for the Frenchman known.
More than 3,000 fans, most of them wearing black and white, belted out the latest rendition of 'don't sell Cabaye' as he applauded them. The chant will have reverberated around the East End of London – and beyond.
It will be hoped the message was loud enough for Mike Ashley, the club's owner who was not at Upton Park, to hear too after a performance of the highest quality from the former Lille man.
With displays like the one he turned in to torment struggling West Ham, it is understandable there is persistent talk of potential offers from the likes of Paris St Germain and Manchester United.
The standard of his performance also vindicated Newcastle's decision to reject a £10m bid from Arsenal last August. Evidence suggests he is worth much more in today's Premier League market.
Cabaye dominated and dictated the first half in Newcastle's favour with his variation of passes, his strong running and a goal to put his team on course for a 3-1 win. Even his second half showing, which was not as commanding, still ended with him delivering a brilliant free-kick to seal the points.
Alan Pardew, the Newcastle boss, reiterated hopes of keeping Cabaye beyond the January 31 transfer deadline. And, unlike last August, to help the manager's cause, the midfielder is starting to talk up playing Champions League with Newcastle rather than somewhere else.
Cabaye, aware of the seven point gap to fourth, said: "We can do better than two seasons ago where we finished fifth in terms of points at the end. I think the ambition just has to be to win the next game, stay focused, work to try to win as many as we can.
“We are in a good position and we stay just behind the top six, top seven. We can work without pressure for the moment and it's good for us.
“Now we just have to focus on the next game and we will see what is going to happen in the last four or five games for where we are going to be. If we can fight for something, why not? But we are just confident and thinking about the next game.
West Ham United manager Sam Allardyce
“Champions League, it's a bigger level. But I think we have the capacity to just stay next to the big teams. If we are still in a similar position [to challenge for the top four] by the end, why not?”
Ashley has shown in the past that he will sell any player for a price he feels is beneficial. If the valuation he has is met, Cabaye is likely to be sold.
But with the 28-year-old in such good form as he pushes for a starting spot for France at this summer's World Cup in Brazil, Pardew will find it difficult to replace him – even if a move for Montpellier's playmaker Remy Cabella edges closer.
Cabaye is unlikely to go down the route of demanding a transfer like he did in August. He said: “For me the most important thing, as I said, is to do my best for the team.
“If the manager or the staff are happy with my performance and the fans who are supporting me are happy, I am happy. My mentality hasn't changed. Even after what happened in the summer. I will do my best for the team every day.”
West Ham had no answer to Cabaye in the first half. The Hammers started brightly and gone close when Matt Taylor had headed wide at the near post early on, but Newcastle soon took control.
Seconds later Cabaye put the visitors ahead. After Steven Taylor had led a counter-attack, Yoan Gouffran passed inside to his compatriot. Cabaye took a touch, rounded Razvan Rat before side-footing the opener beyond Adrian inside 15 minutes.
After that he found space with ease and created space for others with his decisions. The surprise was that Newcastle only scored two before half-time.
Loic Remy and Moussa Sissoko had gone close with efforts before the latter's delivery in the 33rd minute was misjudged by Matt Taylor. Remy chested down unmarked and poked a finish over the line for his 11th for the club.
Newcastle's failure to add a third meant West Ham, who had many of their own fans turn on Sam Allardyce and his players, were suddenly back in it when they pulled one back in a fortuitous manner seconds before the interval.
Rat's cross was poorly dealt with by Steven Taylor. Tim Krul was unable to get enough on Carlton Cole's initial effort and the loose ball was forced over the line through a combination of Cole and Mike Williamson.
After the restart West Ham were a different proposition. Without being brilliant, the Hammers looked more effective and Stewart Downing's deliveries led to a couple of great chances.
The best fell to Andy Carroll, a second half substitute as he continued his latest comeback, when he volleyed over from eight yards. There was another for Carlton Cole.
Overall Williamson and Steven Taylor combined to keep the Newcastle backline together and keep the home side at bay. From start to finish, Newcastle dug in and did the hard work to frustrate West Ham.
And after substitute Hatem Ben Arfa had been fouled on the edge of the box, Cabaye curled in a brilliant free-kick which Adrian could only push on to his post and over the line to earn Newcastle's first victory since Boxing Day in stoppage-time.
Newcastle’s Steven Taylor keeps apart team-mate Tim Krul, right, and West Ham striker Carlton Cole
Cabaye said: “I stay every day after the training session and I try to score with my free-kicks. This one went in and I hope for the future that I score more free-kicks.
“We showed a lot of confidence on the pitch. We know it's a tough place to come here. It's always difficult to play against West Ham. But we deserved to win.
The confidence is good. We just need to keep going and try to win the next game.”