Newcastle United Friday Links: It's Game Day!

It is possible that I may use this image for every post for the rest of my life.

Guten Morgen, Toon fans. My apologies for the lack of links yesterday. I was dealing with the marvels of modern pharmaceuticals and not feeling very much well at all. I am, however, back in the saddle ad am here to bring you some light reading ahead of today's tie at Anfield. We're meant to be scared as we haven't won at Anfield for 17 years... but hey, we just saw a longer losing streak at St. James' snapped... so anything can happen, right?

Predictably, the news today centers around Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa and a little bit about the former number 9 shirt. I've also included a tidied up version of the story on Jason Prior. Let's jump and read!

Prolific Demba Ba hailed as the bargain of the season by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew - Telegraph

Ba’s form will undoubtedly have alerted clubs with bigger budgets than Newcastle, although the old knee injury that prompted Stoke to pull out of a deal to sign him at the start of the year is likely to mean Pardew does not have to fight to hold on to the Senegal international next month.

That will be a relief as Newcastle’s manager is still scarred by the memory of losing Andy Carroll to Liverpool for £35 million on the final day of the window last January. "When Andy Carroll left, it was as disappointing a week as I’ve had at this football club," he said. "You do not expect to lose a player of such significance on the last day and it put us in a very vulnerable position. "After selling Carroll we lost at Fulham, which was probably the worst game of my stewardship. There is no doubt that was an after-effect of the Carroll sale. "We felt it on the pitch. Even myself, I was feeling a bit dejected at that time. You arm yourself never to be in that position, but you can’t help taking away human emotions. So I couldn’t fault the players either."

As we all know, it didn't just affect the club and the players. There are few times in my entire life of being a supporter/fan of many teams that I have just absolutely felt floor-falling-out despondently gutted, and the termination of the former number 9 shirt's association with Newcastle United was one of those times. I plead with Ashley, Llambias and whomever else is involved in these decisions to not put me through this again this January.

Ben Arfa can bring goals to Newcastle - Black & White - Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette

"This year, we are losing Demba Ba, but we have got the added advantage of having Hatem around which we didn’t have last year, so we are slightly better off than we were last year – and remember, it’s not for half a season, it’s for just six weeks or whatever it is." -AP

Alan, do not attempt to tell me that you have not counted the exact number of days that Demba will be gone. You cannot tell me that you have not converted that time into hours then minutes, then seconds like a proper obsessive. You can't assert this and still maintain credibility in my eyes (after all, I've done it)*

*Neither have I converted the time Demba will be gone to seconds, nor will I disbelieve AP if he claims he hasn't done this, even though I know he has.

Pardew ponders Ben Arfa conundrum (From The Northern Echo)

Take Newcastle's Boxing Day win over Bolton for example. One minute, more than 4,000 travelling supporters were lauding the Frenchman for the clinical strike that set up a deserved 2-0 win. The next, his manager, Alan Pardew, was berating him for tamely conceding possession to Chris Eagles and then failing to track the Bolton substitute back towards Newcastle's penalty area.

Aaaaand now the empirical evidence for why AP refuses to start Hatem Ben Arfa. The situation is bound to be frustrating for everyone, but there is a real forced solution on the horizon. With Demba's departure, HBA has got to be the man to slide in, yes? I think we'll see and know all we need to know if Pardew slides Shola in ahead of HBA, and at that time, we can probably sign Ben Arfa's papers out. Melodramatic? Perhaps. Aggrandizing the situation? Sure. But man that'd be a shocker.

Newcastle not scared of old boy Andy - Black & White - Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette

"It’s a hard game – and we won’t be expected to win – but they had a draw (against Blackburn) and their fans will be a little bit on edge. We have to make sure we go out there and fight, like we did against Bolton. "They’ve got some great players, but look at ours. Demba (Ba) is absolutely flying. We don’t have to be scared of anybody. The confidence is back, and we’re back to doing what we’ve done all season." -Tim Krul

I'm just going to go ahead and assume Mike Williamson is healthy and in for today's match. It's nicer on the brain that way. I, for one, am scared of the former #9 shirt. He's got to come good at some point, right? As Robert said last night (paraphrased), he must never score a goal against Newcastle.

Newcastle United favourites for Onuoha - Fansfc

However, latest reports suggest Newcastle have edged ahead of the Trotters in the hunt for Onuoha, with manager Alan Pardew set to pay £3million for the defender.

Here's the newest cut-rate defender that we've been connected with. He's a lot in the Gaby Obertan mold (young talent, buried on the depth chart at a club in Manchester), except he is 25. Still, at £3m, it's hard to say it'd be a bad move. Although, if the rumors were true, I think £3m for Alex buys more than the same money for Onuoha, but what do I know?

Striker Jason Prior aiming for Newcastle United place - NUFC Latest News - Newcastle United - ChronicleLive

FROM the Wessex League Premier Division to St James’ Park in two years – that is the extraordinary dream being chased by 22-year-old striker Jason Prior, the non-league striker due for a trial with Newcastle United in the New Year.

Here is a tidied-up newspaper version of the Jason Prior story. This would be a pretty amazing story if it pans out. And, as the days pass, he gets younger and younger. When I first started following the story, he was 24. By the time I finished my write-up, he was 23. He's now 22... but that's how things go when you're chasing the rumor on Twitter.

So that's the news. If you haven't, check out our Last Minute Injuries and Selection Guesses from Robert, and don't forget the match!

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