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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League


David Moyes takes his team to Tyneside on Saturday as the Blues face unbeaten Newcastle United in another lunchtime kick-off.

The Magpies climbed to third in the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Stoke City on Monday night and are now just a point behind Manchester United.

So what has been the secret of Newcastle's success this season? We've asked supporter Colin Chow and BBC Radio Tyneside's Mick Lowes as we go Behind Enemy Lines.

Demba Ba

Magpies Make Flying Start

The cynic might argue that Newcastle's early season fixture list has avoided some the division's biggest names, but the Toon have already taken something from both Spurs and Arsenal on their way to 22 points from 10 games.

They look defensively solid and Leon Best and Demba Ba have provided a cutting edge at the other end.

Tougher tests lie in wait for United, but lifelong supporter Chow is delighted with the way things are going.

"Our start to the season has been the most fantastic surprise,” he said. “We're currently sitting in third place, unbeaten after 10 games and we're eight points better off than last season.

"Pardew and chief scout Graham Carr have made some astute signings and we have a stronger squad compared to last year.

"There's a great camaraderie and team spirit amongst the squad and it helps that we've had seven players who have started every game, including our goalkeeper and back four. That has helped us to keep the meanest defence in the Premier League."

Cab Finds Right Gear

Since January Newcastle have lost Kevin Nolan, Andy Carroll, Joey Barton and Jose Enrique from their squad, leaving Pardew with the uneviable task of replacing them on a restricted budget.

The likes of Davide Santon and Sylvain Marveaux haven't featured much yet but Frenchman Yohann Cabaye has won rave reviews this term at the heart of the Magpies midfield.

And BBC Radio Tyneside reporter Lowes has been impressed with how the former Lille man has settled in to English football.

"Cabaye was on a number of clubs’ radars. He is a current French international and will be the mainstay of the French team for some time," explained Lowes.

"He was part of a double-winning side at Lille last season. Newcastle have courted him and made sure the players were always aware of their interest.

"Alan Pardew refers to him as the quarter-back and he plays that role whereby virtually everything goes through him. It's a nice partnership, him and Tiote.

“Tiote is the grafter and the ball winner. They complement each other very nicely and have been a big part of Newcastle's success early in the season.

"Cabaye will be a big player in the Premier League for years to come."

Alan Pardew

Winning Over The Masses

The Newcastle United fans are traditionally fickle, but in Chris Hughton they had seemingly found a manager who had won them over by winning promotion to the Premier League at the first attempt after relegation in 2009.

Supporters – including Chow – were understandably disgruntled about the way Hughton was sacked last December.

But after securing safety last season and delivering a fantastic start this term, Lowes says Pardew is slowly converting the United faithful.

"Pardew was disliked by association because he was seen to be part of the Cockney Mafia and that Mike Ashley and Derek Lambias, the managing director, had appointed him sipmly because he was one of them.

"Alan Pardew has maintained from day one that he is his own man and maintained he would do the job the way he wants and it has proven to be absolutely 100 per cent correct.

"He gets on well with the players, they have respect for him as a coach and he made a very good appointment in bringing John Carver back the club as well as the likes of Steve Stone and Andy Woodman, the goalkeeping coach.

"They are just going really nicely at the minute and we have listeners ringing in and being prepared to say that they got it wrong, eating humble pie and saying they should have given this guy a chance."

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