Reports linking Cabaye with a move away from St James’ park at the start of the season led to the midfielder missing the first few games of the season as his head was not in the right place. Recent performances have shown how important he is to Newcastle and why he was touted by the likes of Arsenal. His decision to stay on Tyneside at least until the end of the season must have delighted Pardew.
Presumably Cabaye feels it necessary to show some loyalty to the fans and doesn’t want to disrupt his good form ahead of the World Cup. In recent weeks Pardew has deployed him in behind Remy, this more attacking position allows him to take advantage of his finishing ability and passing. He first played here in the game against Manchester United, since then he’s pushed on to recapture his best form. By playing in behind the striker he gets more space and is consistently taking up positions in and around the edge of the area, it’s from these kinds of position that he’s proving deadly, 5 of Cabaye’s goals have come from outside the area. It’s the sort of position where neither defenders nor midfielders are sure whether to pick him up, and Cabaye is capitalising on the space he’s getting.
In last 7 games Cabaye has scored 5 goals, bringing his total for the season to 7 and making him Newcastle’s second highest scorer. He’s provided 2 assists so far this season and his average passing accuracy per game has been 82%. Cabaye has been averaging 3.3 shots per game, the most in the Newcastle squad. He’s easily been Newcastle’s best player this season.
Cabaye has scored 5 more than when playing deeper, but he also has the ability to play as part of a midfield 2 (alongside Tiote) and influence the game from deeper, making 2.4 tackles per game (3rd most) and 2.4 interceptions (joint highest). When he’s playing higher up and winning the ball back he has more of an impact and is able to do more damage.
When Cabaye plays well, so do Newcastle. He’s the heart of the team, making the second most passes in the team per game (49). Of the 17 games Cabaye has started this season Newcastle have won 10, lost 5 and drawn 2, when he’s featured as a substitute they’ve won 1 and lost 1 and they are yet to win in a game he hasn’t featured in (1 loss, 2 draws).
If he continues in his current vein of form, Cabaye will be on his way to Brazil with France and should be getting a starting position. Whether or not he remains at Newcastle next season is another matter entirely, but Newcastle fans everywhere will be hoping that he does.