Newcastle United Player Grades vs. Fulham
The enigmatic Frenchman netted in the 86th minute to hand the Magpies all three points at St. James’ Park after a rousing second-half performance from the home side.
The scoreline could have been far more convincing, but Fulham keeper David Stockdale was in fine form to deny Yoan Gouffran and Yohan Cabaye, while Papiss Cissé went close with a header that struck the crossbar.
Ben Arfa’s stunning strike ended a run of four home games without a goal for the Geordies, and with relief in the air on Tyneside, we grade each player’s performance against Martin Jol’s men.
The Dutch goalkeeper didn’t have a great deal to do against Fulham, who failed to gather much momentum in an attacking sense.
And though he had a relatively quiet afternoon, when he was called upon to keep the Londoners at bay, Krul didn’t let his side down.
His sharp reactions kept out a Bryan Ruiz free kick after the break, and the 25-year-old also did well to block an Adel Taarabt effort following a rare mistake from captain Fabricio Coloccini.
After a somewhat shaky start to the campaign, right-back Mathieu Debuchy looked comfortable against Fulham and played his part in keeping Newcastle’s third clean sheet in a row.
The Frenchman also got forward to good effect in support of Hatem Ben Arfa down the right-hand side and took up some good positions in wide areas.
Very few questions were asked of Debuchy, and he’ll face far bigger tests this season, but his confidence should lift after a much-improved performance.
Against a proven Premier League striker in the shape Darren Bent, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa rarely looked troubled and was a composed presence alongside Fabricio Coloccini.
His timing and sense of positioning contributed to a solid performance by Newcastle’s defence, and the former Montpellier man did his chances of a regular place at centre-back no harm in the absence of the suspended Steven Taylor.
Another calm and collected performance from Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini guided the Magpies to their third clean sheet in as many games.
An uncharacteristic slip in the second-half almost gifted Fulham the lead, as a stray touch saw the ball land at the feet of Adel Taarabt. But the Moroccan’s shot was well saved by Tim Krul and the Geordies breathed a sigh of relief.
That mistake aside, Coloccini looked comfortable throughout against Fulham and caught the eye with some precision passing from deep.
Newcastle’s first choice left-back has become a firm favourite at St. James’ Park since his arrival two years ago, and the former Inter Milan man wasn’t asked too many questions in the win over Fulham.
Much like his teammate Mathieu Debuchy, the Italian got forward at every opportunity and found himself in some good attacking positions after the break.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Before netting the goal that won the game for Newcastle United, Hatem Ben Arfa had endured a frustrating afternoon and looked an exasperated figure as he tried time and again to cut in from the right-hand side.
As is often the case with the Frenchman, however, one moment of genius shoved all of his previous inconsistencies to one side, and his 86th minute winner was a sight to behold.
After expertly controlling a ball from debutant Loïc Rémy, Ben Arfa showed great skill to create space for himself before lashing an unstoppable drive beyond David Stockdale and into the top corner.
Vurnon Anita is fast becoming an important cog in the Newcastle machine, and against Fulham he produced another cultured performance.
His simplistic approach gives the Magpies a degree of stability in the middle of the park and technically, the Dutchman displays all the hallmarks expected of an Ajax academy graduate.
The 24-year-old rarely gave the ball away, and enjoyed a pass success rate of 92 per cent.
After being tested in a variety of positions by manager Alan Pardew, Moussa Sissoko is beginning to look the part in the centre of Newcastle’s midfield, and produced a powerful performance against Fulham.
Quiet before half-time, the former Toulouse star grew in stature as the game wore on and played a vital role as United went looking for their all-important winner.
Trusted with Newcastle’s set pieces before being replaced by Loïc Rémy with 15 minutes remaining, Sylvain Marveaux struggled to stamp his authority on their clash with Fulham.
Used predominantly on the left, the skilful Frenchman was unproductive in the first-half as United once again looked to Hatem Ben Arfa to unlock the visitors’ defence.
His performance levels rose after the break along with the majority of his teammates, but he didn’t do enough with the ball at his feet and is capable of much more.
After scoring their opening goal against Morecambe in the League Cup in midweek, Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi was hoping to pick up where he left off on the Lancashire coast.
But the striker endured a frustrating afternoon against Fulham and seemed to drift in and out of the game in the first-half.
The 31-year-old was replaced by Yoan Gouffran with 25 minutes remaining, and with Loïc Rémy making a positive impression on his Magpies debut, Ameobi could well lose his place for the next game against Aston Villa.
Still looking for his first goal of the 2013-14 campaign, Papiss Cissé seemed to struggle during the opening 45 minutes and often looked isolated in Newcastle’s attack.
But his movement caused Fulham problems after the break and he was desperately unlucky not to get on the score-sheet when his powerful header cannoned off the crossbar.
The Frenchman received a mixed reception from the Newcastle faithful following his refusal to play in the previous two games, but he proved his worth with typical enthusiasm and some vital interceptions.
Much like Papiss Cissé, Gouffran is in desperate need of a goal, and he missed a good chance after being introduced in the 65th minute. His positioning, however, is a positive and he remains a useful asset to the team.
Given little time to make his mark on the fixture, on-loan striker Loïc Rémy grabbed his opportunity with both hands, and looked a real threat on his Newcastle debut. He was credited with an assist for United’s winner and the Geordie fans will be looking forward to seeing a lot more of him over the coming weeks and months.