With 12 games gone in the 2013-14 Premier League campaign, and with a hectic Christmas period on the horizon, Newcastle United are just two points off the Champions League places.
Their season has been littered with highs and lows, but standout performances have been at a premium amongst Alan Pardew’s squad.
So as the Toon go looking for their fourth victory in a row against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, we rank the five best players to pull on a black and white shirt so far this term.
It’s not often that one individual performance makes a season, but in the case of Newcastle United stopper Tim Krul, he is certainly the exception.
His performance against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in November was one of the greatest displays of goalkeeping the Premier League has ever seen.
Time and again, the Dutchman thwarted the home side, pulling off a record 14 saves to deny Spurs and hand the Toon three points in the process.
Beyond that, the 25-year-old has been steady between the posts this term, but his heroics in North London alone earn him a place in the top five.
Defensively, Newcastle United have rarely looked back since Mike Williamson’s introduction against Everton in late September, and have lost just one league game since.
The former Wycombe Wanderers man began the season as the club’s fourth-choice centre-back, but has taken his chance admirably in the absence of Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor.
Many had written him off following a difficult spell last term, but the 30-year-old has bounced back with a string of determined displays.
He may not be the type of cultured player who likes to play the ball along the floor, but Williamson is a defender first and foremost—and a very good one at that.
In a side brimming with French internationals, it’s ironic that the uncapped Yoan Gouffran has been one of Newcastle United’s most consistent stars this season.
His strong running, high work rate and eye for goal have made him a huge favourite on the terraces at St. James’ Park, where he enjoys cult status among the club’s supporters.
With four goals to his name so far, the former Bordeaux man is second only to Loic Remy in the scoring stakes, and this from a player who is largely considered to be playing out of position.
The 27-year-old has been utilised out wide on the left this term, but that hasn’t stopped him becoming a key figure for Alan Pardew’s men.
Like many Newcastle United players last season, Cheick Tiote looked a shadow of his former self, and many questioned his commitment to the black and white cause.
However, ever since Magpies boss Alan Pardew handed him the captain’s armband against Liverpool in mid-October, the midfield enforcer has been an inspiration.
With Vurnon Anita in such good form—and hugely unlucky not to make this list—Tiote had genuine competition for his engine-room berth, but has been imperious of late.
The Ivorian has looked every inch the star that arrived from FC Twente back in August 2010, and is once more considered a key component in Pardew’s starting XI.
With Demba Ba gone and Papiss Cisse undergoing a scoring drought of epic proportions, Newcastle United have Loic Remy to thank for their healthy league position.
The French international, who is on loan from Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season, has been in prolific form with eight goals in just nine starts for the Magpies.
His instinctive nature in and around the penalty area has seen the striker become an instant hit at St. James’ Park, and all eyes are on the club’s directors to see if his switch can be made permanent.
United have a long and proud tradition of emphatic goal-getters, and Toon fans will be hoping his heroics aren’t restricted to one campaign only.