By David Lynch at Goodison Park
Prior to Newcastle’s clash with Everton at Goodison Park on Monday evening, Demba Ba’s brother expressed indignation at his sibling’s failure to earn a starting berth.
“So Demba scored 17 goals since last year and Alan Pardew decided to put him on the bench today ... I think this guy is crazy,” he tweeted, clearly out of anger at his brother’s exclusion and with no consideration of the tactical approach of playing one up top away from home. Bizarrely, however, just 90 minutes later, this off-the-cuff remark had been proven correct, and in some fashion.
The Senegalese striker was introduced at half-time at the expense of the woeful Sylvain Marveaux and took just four minutes to make his point. He latched on to a brilliant through ball from Yohan Cabaye before gliding into the box and providing the sort of unerring finish which is fast becoming his trademark.
Yet, he wasn’t finished. After Victor Anichebe appeared to have given the Toffees a last-gasp victory with a fine turn and strike, Ba provided a fitting end to a thrilling contest. The forward again made full use of his team-mates’ endeavours, collecting a Shola Ameobi flick-on before bundling, with slightly less style, past a helpless Tim Howard.
That both of his goals came with zero input from his compatriot Papiss Cisse held great significance, the status of number one striker on Tyneside may well be changing hands yet again.
|EVERTON 2-2 NEWCASTLE
|MATCH REPORT: Demba Ba's second-half double salvages a point for Pardew's Magpies|
Despite enjoying a prolific start to life with the Magpies, Ba endured harsh criticism following Cisse’s arrival. The 27-year-old failed to score for 14 games when partnered with his international team-mate, a statistic partly borne out of Pardew’s decision to shunt him to the left-hand side.
His deployment out wide hinted at his role in the team, the former Freiburg forward was clearly viewed as the greater long-term prospect and a more reliable contributor. Now, however, with the bit between his teeth, Ba has started this season like a man out to ensure his manager can no longer ignore him.
Helping the Toon to a 2-1 win over Champions League challengers Tottenham on the first day of the season was a good start, but Monday night’s performance has underlined his desire to be first choice up top.
Ba did not just score his goals, he appeared unplayable, dragging Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin all over the pitch when they had looked immovable up against Cisse in the first period. He came close on several occasions and on another night may have had a hat-trick, it was a showing of an angry man, something Pardew later acknowledged.
But the Englishman now perhaps faces a selection headache which cannot be described as beneficial to his side’s chances. Cisse is now facing a run of three games without a goal in the Premier League, his longest drought since his arrival from the Bundesliga.
|ENDING THE DROUGHT|
|6/1||Papiss Cisse is 6/1 to open the scoring for Newcastle against Maritimo on Thursday night|
That both Ba and Cisse’s runs of productive form have come when their partner has not been firing must surely be a worry. Whether the duo can score without damaging their collaborator’s output is a genuine concern for the Magpies manager.
If the 51-year-old can solve that dilemma, then his side may again be looking at heady aims beyond simply qualifying for the Europa League. On their day, Ba and Cisse are a threat unmatched in the Premier League, one which could help the north east club to once again face up to the more established challengers for a top-four finish.
However, the draw with Everton has underlined the difficulty of that. As the seemingly never-ending Lampard and Gerrard experiment for England has proved, players do not always bring the best out of each other no matter how talented they are.
But, if Pardew is genuinely tinkering with the idea of utilising just one his two Senegalese frontmen, then Monday’s game provided compelling evidence that it is Ba, not Cisse, who must be included.
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