Yoan Gouffran


By Tom Easterby

 

Throughout the summer we are reviewing the 2013/14 campaign, a season of highs and lows which saw Newcastle finish tenth in the Barclays Premier League. The first weekly instalment covers August and September, where United recovered from a heavy opening day defeat to make a steady start to the season...

 

AUGUST

After a promising pre-season schedule, which included victories over Motherwell, St. Mirren and Blackpool and draws with Pacos de Ferreira, Rangers and SC Braga, the unforgiving fixture generator handed Newcastle United a tough trip to Manchester City on the opening day of the 2013/14 Barclays Premier League season.

The game at the Etihad Stadium brought about few positives for the Magpies, as goals from David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri condemned them to a 4-0 defeat.

Matters were made worse for United as Steven Taylor was red-carded by referee Andre Marriner following an incident involving Aguero on the stroke of half-time and, with Jonas Gutierrez succumbing to injury, the squad already looked set to be stretched just 90 minutes into the new season.

However, Alan Pardew's side were boosted by the arrival of striker Loic Remy.

The France international's career had already seen him don the colours of both Lyon and Marseille, where his goals made him one of Europe's most sought after properties.

A short stint at QPR followed but their relegation to the Championship at the end of the 2012/13 season meant Newcastle were able to pounce and secure Remy's signature on a season-long loan deal.

Though Remy was unable to feature in the first three fixtures of the campaign due to injury, he did eventually make his bow as a 74th-minute substitute in the 1-0 victory over Fulham at St. James' Park on the final day of August, a game which was decided by a moment of magic from Hatem Ben Arfa just four minutes from time.

Earlier in the week, a United side featuring the likes of Rob Elliot, Gael Bigirimana and Curtis Good saw off the challenge of plucky League Two outfit Morecambe in the Capital One Cup, with late strikes from the Ameobi brothers, Shola and Sammy, picking off the Shrimps at the Globe Arena.

Ending the month with four points from nine in the league, three clean sheets from four and progression in a domestic cup competition represented a decent August for Pardew's men, aside from the thumping defeat at the hands of the champions elect at Eastlands.

Goal of the month

An easy decision - Hatem Ben Arfa's touch, control, trickery and fleet of foot were all evident in the build up to his match-winning effort against Fulham.

Chesting down a crossfield ball, the mercurial wideman bamboozled the Cottagers' defence before cutting inside to curl past a helpless David Stockdale, sending the Gallowgate End wild.

 

SEPTEMBER

After a two-week international break, Newcastle returned to action at Villa Park on 14th September.

Loic Remy made his first start for the Club, but it was Ben Arfa who, once again, found the target to give United a deserved first-half lead.

Christian Benteke's equaliser came against the run of play, with the ever-impressive Yohan Cabaye dictating the play and a three-pronged forwardline of Remy, Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse constantly probing the Villa defence.

It was Remy's replacement, Yoan Gouffran, who grabbed the winner with just over a quarter-of-an-hour to play, pouncing after Brad Guzan had parried into his path.

However, the following week brought about the Magpies' first loss at home of the campaign - a 3-2 reverse against newly-promoted Hull City.

Remy's first-half double - the first strikes of his loan spell - sandwiched a Robbie Brady goal to give the home side a narrow advantage at the break, but former Sunderland man Ahmed Elmohamady levelled things up and Sone Aluko volleyed in a George Boyd cross to hand native Geordie Steve Bruce a welcome three points.

The Capital One Cup third round draw brought a tie that just ten years ago would've been a top-half fixture in the Barclays Premier League, as Leeds United made the trip to St. James' Park.

The visitors threatened sporadically, with Matt Smith combining well with captain Ross McCormack up front. The latter even struck the crossbar shortly after Papiss Cisse's headed opener, but it was Yoan Gouffran who made the game safe, turning expertly on the edge of the box before rifling past Paddy Kenny.

With a safe passage into the fourth round of the Cup already in the bag, Pardew was able to hand fringe players Haris Vuckic, Dan Gosling and Gabriel Obertan run-outs from the bench, while Sylvain Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi and Paul Dummett were all starters.

Back in league action five days later, United went down 3-2 to a resurgent Everton. Led by the in-form duo of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, Roberto Martinez's new-look Toffees were quick out the traps and found themselves three goals to the good before half-time.

A double from the big Belgian either side of Barkley's low finish left Newcastle with a mountain to climb in the second period, but they almost managed to salvage something from the game.

Yohan Cabaye's spectacular strike got the Toon back into it, but a late Remy toe-poke proved to be little more than a consolation as they ended the month on a sour note.

Goal of the month

A couple of contenders for this accolade - Gouffran's turn and drive against Leeds comes close, as does his winner at Villa for sheer importance.

But it is impossible to overlook Yohan Cabaye's 30-yard swerver at Everton - arrowed into Tim Howard's top corner. The former Lille schemer's stunner was a real contender for Goal of the Season.