Out of form and in a funk, Newcastle United could have used one of two things: a solid defensive effort for a clean sheet, or a goal-filled victory.
Tonight they got both.
The injury-plagued Magpies wrapped up a 3-0 victory over equally struggling Wigan Athletic in front of a slow-arriving and somewhat subdued home crowd at St. James Park Monday night.
A big early penalty decision and sending off of Wigan defender Maynor Figueroa by referee Mike Jones set the tone for the night, as Newcastle converted the penalty to take the early lead and never looked back.
Demba Ba tucked in two to tie for the league lead in goals, and youngster Gael Bigirimana scored his milestone first Premier League goal in spectacular fashion. However, the night wasn't without its pains and groans for Magpie fans as both Davide Santon and Demba Ba left the game early with injuries.
It was a good effort all around for Newcastle, who now steer a bit further away from the relegation zone. Here are the top three players for Newcastle from tonight's match:
No question Demba Ba was the top man in form today for Newcastle, as he has been all season.
Ba tucked away his ninth goal of the season from the spot in the 11th minute of the match, and followed it up with a rebound goal from a Davide Santon strike in the 20th minute for his 10th. The Senegalese striker is now tied for goals in the Premier League with Manchester United's Robin Van Persie, Miguel Michu of Swansea and Luis Suarez of Liverpool.
Unfortunately, Ba went down in the 86th minute with what looked to be a hamstring injury. He came off under his own power but was in obvious discomfort. Hopefully it isn't a serious injury since Newcastle is already missing main men Cabaye, Ben Arfa and Steven Taylor.
The young Frenchman, Marveaux, had a scintillating game in only his second start and sixth appearance for Newcastle this season.
In time of injury you have to hope that the unknown and oft-overlooked step up and sieze the moment. Marveaux certainly looked ripe for the occasion tonight, picking up an assist on Bigirimana's goal and having several skillful runs up the left side.
The pace and skill that Marveaux showcased tonight is hopefully a preview to what he can contribute.
One thing for sure is that the magpies will need more of that quality as long as the injury bug keeps swirling around the squad.
It's been a tough road thus far for Vurnon Anita. He has had shaky games here and there since his transfer from Ajax, but over the last three matches the Dutchman has settled down and played very tidy and efficient football.
Anita had several solid plays, including a hand in the first Newcastle goal. He found Demba Ba outside the 18-yard box, who in turn put Cissé in for the eventual foul. He also set up Marveaux in the 52nd minute with a crisp through ball, but the strike was parried away by Al-Habsi.
Anita worked hard on both sides of the ball and continues to grow into his role with the Toon. His comfort should be a welcomed sight, since Yohan Cabaye is expected to be out until February due to a groin injury that requires surgery.