Alan Pardew warns Arsenal
Alan Pardew has warned Arsenal not to underestimate injury-hit Newcastle as they head for the capital determined to atone for their Boxing Day disappointment.
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Despite missing a host of senior players, the Magpies took the lead three times at Manchester United on Wednesday before eventually succumbing to Javier Hernandez's last-gasp winner and slipping to a seventh defeat in nine Barclays Premier League outings.
Far from improving ahead of this evening's trip to the Emirates Stadium, Pardew's selection crisis has deepened with his delight at midfielder Cheick Tiote's return from suspension being tempered by central defender Mike Williamson's one-match ban and Vurnon Anita's badly-bruised ankle.
However, the 51-year-old saw enough during an eventful 90 minutes at Old Trafford to be confident that in the likes of Gael Bigirimana and Sylvain Marveaux, who both started against United, he has under-studies who are up to the task.
Pardew said: "I have got good players. Bigirimana will have grown from that performance; Marveaux has been a little bit of a plus for us in that he seems to have finally found his feet here.
"I say that all the time about international players, they take different times - Anita took at least 10 games to get going.
"Sylvain Marveaux has taken a year. He has had injuries in there as well, but he is looking the part, so we have got good players.
"I have no fear about going to Arsenal."
Nineteen-year-old Bigirimana, a summer signing from Coventry, could prove to be a key figure in the weeks ahead with Tiote due to join up with the Ivory Coast squad ahead of the African Nations Cup after Wednesday evening's home clash with Everton.
With Yohan Cabaye and Anita, as well as fellow midfielders Hatem Ben Arfa and Jonas Gutierrez, on the injured list, Pardew has had to blood the teenager more quickly than he had planned to, and he has been impressed by the Burundi-born player's response.
He said: "Cheick is going away, we have got no Cabaye, so the boy needs to do what Anita did, suddenly bring it all together.
"In flashes and in periods of games, he was been terrific. There has been just a little bit of inexperience here and there when he has lost possession in the final third and things like that, that he needs to nail down and when nails that down, we will be fine with him.
"He's a lovely lad. You could see at Old Trafford when he went off players going over to shake his hand and pat him on the back because we all know he is going to be a player."
Newcastle came within a minute or so of claiming a point at United, and while the fact that they came away empty-handed was a source of intense disappointment, Pardew is delighted to have an early opportunity address that.
He said: "That's the beauty of football. It's not like a boxing match where you have to dwell on it for seven months before your promoter fixes you another one.
"We have got a game, so we can get over it, hopefully, with the right result."