Match Analysis: Newcastle United 1-0 Fulham

Hatem Ben Arfa of Newcastle United celebrates scoring the opening goal with team mate Loic Remy during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Fulham at St James' Park on August 31, 2013
© Getty Images
Sports Mole casts an analytical eye over Newcastle United's 1-0 victory against Fulham in the Premier League.

Hatem Ben Arfa struck four minutes from time to give Newcastle United their first victory of the new Premier League season at St James' Park this afternoon.

The French attacker's goal was a rare moment of quality in an encounter that had large spells in which both sides found it hard to maintain possession.

Below, Sports Mole has looked back over the contest to determine if Fulham can feel hard done by or if Newcastle were worthy winners.

Match statistics:

Newcastle:
Shots 22
On target 8
Possession 54%
Corners 13
Fouls 13

Fulham:
Shots 3
On target 2
Possession 46%
Corners 2
Fouls 9

Was the result fair?

Taking everything into consideration, Newcastle did deserve to win - just. That's based largely on their performance during the second half, where they took the game to Fulham and looked to be the only side with any real interest in claiming the three points.

Newcastle's performance

The phrase 'a game of two halves' could well have been coined for Newcastle's showing today. To be blunt, they were awful in the first half and rarely called David Stockdale into action. The introductions of French trio Loic Remy, Yohan Cabaye and Yoan Gouffran after the restart added more pace and craft to their play and it also brought the best out of Ben Arfa, who had more players around him who were on his wavelength. Keeping hold of Cabaye looks to be a tall order, particularly with Arsenal interested. With that in mind, he needs to be replaced because the midfield that started today is not good enough.

Fulham's performance

Manager Martin Jol is bound to be a little disappointed with the result. He sent out a side to get a draw and for 80 or so minutes it looked as though they were easing to that target. That's when the pressure from Newcastle arrived, though, and the Londoners were unable to hold out. What will have been frustrating for Jol is the fact that his creative players, such as Dimitar Berbatov, were very wasteful in possession of the ball.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Hatem Ben Arfa: It seems a bit of cop out to give this award to a player that scored the winner, but he really was the liveliest player on the pitch. Granted, at times he was frustrating and played some poor passes, but he always wanted the ball and was rarely frightened to have an effort at goal. His persistence was eventually rewarded in the closing stages with a Goal of the Month contender.

Biggest gaffe

There were so many errors in the contest when you take into account all of the passes that went astray - it's hard to single one out. Let's go with Gouffran, who for the second week in succession fluffed what looked to be a straightforward chance from close range.

Referee performance

The fact that one did not really notice Chris Foy says it all. He allowed the game to flow and only got his yellow card out on three occasions. In fairness, he did not have any major calls to make, but what he had to do, he did well.

What next?

Newcastle: Next up for Alan Pardew's side is a trip to Birmingham to face Aston Villa after the international break.

Fulham: On the same weekend Fulham will play host to West Bromwich Albion at Craven Cottage.

Darren Bent warms up prior to kick off during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park on October 27, 2012
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