Pardew demands flair men step up
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has challenged his flair players to plug the yawning gap left in his team by Loic Remy's injury.
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The on-loan France international will be missing with a calf problem once again as Crystal Palace arrive at St James' Park on Saturday, denying Pardew his 13-goal leading scorer.
Remy's absence at Fulham last weekend coincided with a toothless display in a 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat, with Papiss Cisse passing up two glorious chances to end his personal drought.
However, Pardew is hoping the likes of Cisse, the fit-again Hatem Ben Arfa, Luuk de Jong and Yoan Gouffran can take up the slack this time around as he contemplates a summer overhaul of his striking department. Remy is on loan from QPR.
Pardew said: "It's a major point for us because obviously Loic Remy is not our player and he has scored most of our goals, and we are struggling to score goals without him, especially since [Yohan] Cabaye left as well.
"It really is a process where we are looking for somebody to step up and get the goals.
"There will be no Loic this weekend, so we really need Papiss, Hatem, Luuk and Gouff to come up with the goals."
Newcastle have become increasingly dependent on Remy's goals - the last game they won in which he did not score was at Palace on December 21 - and with the frontman likely to miss the next two at least, they need to find a solution.
However, Pardew is adamant the Magpies have quality throughout their ranks.
The 52-year-old said: "We are definitely not a one-man team, but he has given us a little bit of a spark. That's what was missing at Fulham, that spark, and we need it to come from other areas.
"We have some real flair in the squad. When we were on the terrific run, some of our flair players were not involved so much, like [Sylvain] Marveaux and Hatem, but now might be an opportunity for them."
Cisse in particular has struggled in front of goal this season, managing only three goals to date with only one of them coming in the league.
It is a record that starkly contrasts with Cisse's opening few months on Tyneside, during which virtually everything he touched ended up in the back of the net as he struck 13 times in his first 14 appearances, often in spectacular style.
Pardew is desperate for the Senegal international to rediscover that kind of form, while acknowledging that but for Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale he might have done so last Saturday.
Pardew said: "The keeper made an unbelievable save, and that's just where Papiss is at the minute. When he does something right, the opposing goalkeeper does something even better.
"But he needs to fight his way through that. His application has been good and hopefully he can get a goal on Saturday regardless of how it comes.
"We really need him to score. You can't hide behind anything else and I am not going to hide behind cliches.
"I really want Papiss to score and hopefully this weekend, he gets a goal."
The enigmatic Ben Arfa too has something to prove as Pardew approaches a series of big decisions over the shape of his squad for next season.
Asked if it is an important few months for the former Marseille man, Pardew replied: "It is, because he has had an up-and-down season and it needs to end well. I think he is focused on that and we hope it does end well."