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Season 2011-12
Norwich City (h) Premier League

in association 

Sunday 18th March 2012, 4pm
Live on Sky Sports

 St. James' Park




Newcastle United

Norwich City

1 - 0



11 mins Hatem Ben Arfa robbed Pilkington just over the halfway line on the United and strode forward into the City half before playing a short crossfield pass to Yohan Cabaye. After a little passing triangle between the French pair and James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini and Danny Guthrie swapped passes before the latter pinged it forward for Jonas Gutierrez the outside left spot.

With Elliott Bennett shadowing him, the winger sent over an early centre from which Papiss Cisse got in ahead of Zak Whitbread and rattled an unstoppable 12 yard right-footed volley into the top corner of the Leazes goal. The celebration this time included a Usain Bolt-like "archer" salute

Half time: Magpies 1 Canaries 0

Full time:
Magpies 1 Canaries 0

We Said

Alan Pardew commented:

"This was the start of the run-in and we have won the first one. It makes it do-able. I’m really proud of the players today. I think we knew in the dressing room we weren’t a totally balanced side today and that we had to give a little bit more. We certainly did that.

"It could well be one of our most important wins of the season because I thought Norwich came here and played with an assurance. It’s easy to look at someone like them and not give them the respect they’re due. We didn’t. We knew it was going to be tough and my players are absolutely elated to have beaten them.

"We had eight senior players missing today and we’ve got four or five out for the season. We’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries. Everybody’s pulling together to try to get us the wins we need.

"I think it is important when you play someone like Norwich who play five midfield players, that you have a tackler in there. And my goodness, James showed that from the first three minutes when he won a tackle he had no right to win.

"They (Ba and Cisse) were a little bit closer together, and that worked better for us. If you are going to play two out-and-out strikers like they are, you have got to ask them to work, and they really put in a shift because that extra midfield player Norwich had started to get a grip at times.

"If you can manage to contain it and be able to deal with it, then you have got two goalscorers on the pitch, and that might have been the difference today.

“I thought he (Cisse) had his best game for us today - not just the fact that he threatened the goal, but his link-up play was right up there with the best in this division.

"I’m really pleased he got the goal and he perhaps should have had two more. In training he bangs three or four goals in quick succession. It surprised me that he missed some of them.

“There wasn’t much theatre today but there was a real professionalism on the pitch. Both teams put in a full stint and kind of stopped the other playing a little bit. The flair players could have offered a little more ‘Je ne sais quoi’ today but my goodness, it was a real battle – and it’s nice to win a battle.

"We’re not firing on all cylinders, we’re not balanced and we’re not at our best. But if you can win when you’re not at your best it’s a great ingredient to have.”

"Mike Ashley said to me after the Sunderland game that it was fantastic theatre and he thoroughly enjoyed it. Well, there wasn't much theatre here, but what there was was a real professionalism on the pitch.

"I asked people to play out of position. It was a real squad effort.

"If I had come here as a coach or a manager watching that game, you would have to say both teams put in a full stint and stopped the other playing a little bit."

They Said

Paul Lambert said:

“I thought against Manchester United we were excellent and we deserved something from the game but that today was as good as we have been in the last few weeks. They don’t need me to stand in there now and tell them what a good performance that was and that they perhaps could have got something from the game. I’ve always been confident that we can get the points.

“Listen, we have a right good lead and we will be fine. I have a great belief in the lads, I trust them 100pc that we can win more games than not and the way they are playing I have no fears whatsoever. We’re sitting there three points behind Swansea who are sitting in eighth so we’ll keep on going.

“We switched off for the goal. We should have got tighter in the penalty box. When you concede a goal that early, you are never quite sure how people are going to react. Coming here we knew it would be tough but we had chances to score. We switched off for the goal – the lads know that – they don’t need me to tell them, but I thought the way we played afterwards was very good.

“It was probably the only moment when we switched off but we knew coming here it was going to be difficult with such a vibrant crowd. Disappointed to lose, but not disappointed with how we played. John made a couple of great saves, but like I have said before he is playing really well for us. You just come to expect that from him now.

“I think they have a top, top goalkeeper as well who had to make some saves. That shows we never just came here and sat back. We tried to win the match and on another day we might have got something.

“I thought we came here and took the game to them and they are a team who have shown everyone this season how well they are playing. Performance-wise was very good. I was delighted how we came back. I thought we started to dominate the ball and in possession we were excellent. 

"The interplay from David
(Fox), Andrew (Surman) and Jonny (Howson) was top, top class. I think at half-time they knew themselves, the players, that we had the belief we could go and retrieve it.

"We were disappointed to lose the goal but at the same time they showed the reaction was there to try and get something back, but as I said before, we were up against a very good side there. At 1-0 down you are always in the game and on another day we might have got one.”


Papiss Cisse netted his third Newcastle goal in what was his fifth appearance for the club (fourth start). He also netted nine for previous club Freiburg in 17 Bundesliga appearances this season.

Tim Krul completed a half century of top-flight appearances for United (49 starts, 1 as sub). Keeping the Canaries at bay gave the Dutchman 10 clean sheets in 29 PL games this season, adding to the four he posted in 21 PL outings in the 2010/11 campaign.  

This was Newcastle's 271st Premier League victory and combining that with our 186 draws means that we've now amassed a total of 999 points from a possible 2,049.

Magpies versus Canaries - post WWII:

2011/12 won 1-0 Cisse
2004/05 won 2-1 Jenas, Sh.Ameobi(pen)(LC)
2004/05 drew 2-2 Bellamy, Hughes
1994/95 won 3-0 Beardsley 2(1pen), Kitson
1993/94 won 3-0 Cole, Lee, Beardsley
1988/89 lost 0-2
1987/88 lost 1-3 Gascoigne
1986/87 won 4-1 Goddard, Gascoigne, McDonald(pen), D.Jackson
1984/85 drew 1-1 Waddle
1981/82 won 2-1 Varadi, Mills
1977/78 drew 2-2 Burns, Kennedy
1976/77 won 5-1 T.Craig, Gowling, Oates, McCaffery 2
1975/76 won 5-2 Gowling 2, Macdonald 2, OG
1973/74 drew 0-0
1972/73 won 3-1 Tudor 2, Guthrie
1964/65 won 2-0 Cummings, Robson
1963/64 won 2-0 Cummings, Iley
1962/63 won 2-1 Fell(pen), Thomas
1961/62 drew 0-0

Full record against Norwich:
  P W D L F A
SJP 23 13 6 4 45 20
TN/CR 23 6 7 10 28 32
League 46 19 13 14 73 52
SJP(FA) 0 0 0 0 0 0
CR 1 0 0 1 0 5
SJP(LC) 1 1 0 0 2 1
CR 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cup 2 1 0 1 2 6
Tot 48 20 13 15 75 58



Two weeks after over 52,000 fans gathered here to watch a battle between warring factions played under FA rules, slightly fewer were present for a calmer and more sedate affair. The comparative lack of atmosphere for this game though disguises the vital importance of the victory to all concerned - a first win in five games a genuine cause for celebration, and relief.

Alan Pardew had the comparative luxury of reflecting on his side's shortcomings in the wake of their having taken an early lead and held on to it thanks a fine finish from Papiss Cisse, some noteworthy blocks from Tim Krul and a welcome reticence from the visitors to commit to an all-out assault. 

Despite some widely-publicised stats about the inability of Paul Lambert's side to keep a clean sheet or win on the Sabbath, we'd seen enough of Norwich at Carrow Road before Christmas to know that both intelligence and ability could be found therein, not just some big lads winning headers up front. 

Scoring first hadn't done us a great deal of good against Fulham, Wolves or Arsenal recently and Cisse just failed to lob Ruddy in the opening moments, but United quickly went ahead through the same player and both he and Demba Ba did enough to keep Norwich on the back foot. 

Behind that duo (Ba encouragingly dropping back into centre midfield this week in search of the ball), Cheick Tiote's absence and other injury concerns were the signal for a revamped United lineup that had one or two folks scratching their heads. With Ryan Taylor knackered and Davide Santon presumably still in the naughty corner after his Gunners grilling, James Perch was relocated from covering at left back to covering in central midfield alongside the recalled Danny Guthrie. 

Meanwhile, Jonas Gutierrez filled in at left back, Yohan Cabaye started in front of him and Hatem Ben Arfa took up position down the right flank. Neither Gabriel Obertan or Shane Ferguson made the bench, but Ryan Donaldson was drafted in from reserve team oblivion to make the numbers up (had the manager wanted to make a point, he'd have presumably omitted him and named just six subs).

Both Ba and Cisse had chances to extend the lead before the interval, while referee Phil Dowd waved away confident appeals for a handball. At the other end meanwhile, some neat passing moves from City presented less danger to us than defenders dallying in possession on the edge of their own box.

Pardew told one slack-jaw seated behind the home dugout to shut it in the second half in response to a moan, but the manager was visibly animated by an earlier bout of madness from Mike Williamson, who attempted to bob and weave like an old boxer before surrendering the ball for Howson to blast his shout narrowly over. In fairness to him though, the ridiculousness of the defender's evasive action  was matched by the absence of warnings or assistance from his dumbstruck colleagues.       

Hatem Ben Arfa hit a right-footer wide after the break but United seemed only too willing to drop back as Norwich looked to push on, and has been the case too often for comfort, neither Ba or Cisse could hold the ball up. In those early moments of the second half, our grip on the three points was more than shaky, especially with memories of our mini capitulation against Wolves still reasonably fresh.

Krul had looked in some discomfort which prompted the sight of substitute 'keeper Rob Elliott briefly warming up, but the Dutchman continued and made a trio a decent saves (a precautionary MRI scan a few days later on Krul confirmed that everything was in order). 

The inevitable change came with Ben Arfa replaced, but despite Shola Ameobi warming up, Davide Santon was reintroduced at left back and Jonas pushed into a more orthodox left wing role. Shola then make his entrance, but there were still nothing more than half chances for United as they tried to finish off City who pressed forward more and more towards the closing stages. 

Steve Morison fired wide when well-placed in what proved to be City's final chance, while fellow striker Grant Holt was thankfully afforded only 13 minutes of normal time in which to try and add to his two goals against us earlier in the season.

The Sky post-match plaudits went to a bare-chested Gutierrez, who created the goal but hardly stole the show otherwise. Our own vote would have been for Perch, gave a solid display, breaking up play and boosting his side with short precise passing - the sort of thing Alan Smith might once have done.

Had Pardew's side not won today, then Sunday's journey to the Hawthorns may have undertaken with slightly more internal and external pressure coming to bear on him ahead of a game at the venue that effectively saw off his two predecessors (Kinnear and Hughton) in differing circumstances. If nothing else though, emerging speculation about messrs Krul and Tiote departing will at least give him a topic to chew on and distract attention away from his ailing side at the media briefings. 

Our recent injury list that is hardly star-studded, but it does mean that he has to coax performances from players who might otherwise see less pitch time - late sub Dan Gosling a prime example in this game, at least managing to avoid a red card against Norwich this time round. Similarly, the door may now open for Haris Vuckic, although the Mehdi Abeid advocates are getting ahead of themselves.

Retaining the spine of the side for our remaining games remains a priority, and in that regard today brought the double bonus of no new injury problems and an absence of yellow cards. Equally key to completing this season successfully though is getting Ba back among the goals - his 16 strikes to date bringing some big wins but also camouflaging some average performances earlier in the season.

While welcome, the win did little to dispel a growing feeling that we're again running out of steam well before the end of a season ("crawling over the finishing line in the manner of a failing marathon runner" as we wrote in April 2005, when in mitigation, we had made it through to both a UEFA Cup Quarter Final and an FA Cup Semi Final before the wheels fell off).

It's far too early to be even talking about finishing lines though; in athletics parlance, the bell hasn't even gone for the last lap yet, given that this was game 29 of a 38 game season (the same applies also to the current fatuous hyperbole about ten cup finals that's been spouted by some players).

On that basis, securing a Europa League place for next season could have potentially disastrous consequences for our top-flight future. Adding a dozen or more games to our current schedule runs the risk of either fielding reserve sides in competition we've bust a gut to get into (and doing likewise in domestic cups) or changing the point when we hit the wall in the league from March to January. 

Putting aside the race for points and cherry-picking games from our remaining schedule, good displays and results against Liverpool and Manchester City here would be greatly encouraging to all concerned, adding to the conviction that this really has been a successful season overall - and not just one when we occasionally came good. The worry though is that we'll be a spent force by then. 


Page last updated 01 February, 2013