Team to watch this weekend: Newcastle United 2

Newcastle United have not scored a goal since Yohan Cabaye left the club. That’s four Premier League games and three fairly dismal performances, with only the draw with Norwich City representing an acceptable standard.

This week, the club banned The Express for publishing a speculative story on Alan Pardew’s future, and whilst the manager isn’t solely culpable for the situation Newcastle find themselves in, the supporters’ mood is not going to improve if Aston Villa take all the points at St James’ Park. Having backed Pardew so aggressively, Mike Ashley might well have boxed himself into a corner for the rest of the season - he doesn’t strike me as a man who reverses his position too often, and so out of pride he’s essentially stuck with his current manager for better or for worse.

Realistically, Newcastle are already safe this season courtesy of their impressive end to 2013, but morale is evidently extremely low and the application of some of the players - especially against Tottenham and Sunderland - was close to being unprofessional. Repeat that kind of surrender and the stories - whether justified or not - about French cliques and the wisdom of having so many foreign players will soon reappear.

Start scoring goals, start winning, or this season will flat-line into pointlessness.

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