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Toon ace can mix it with best
7:10am Saturday 14th December 2013 in Sport
The 27-year-old Ivory Coast international turned in a fine individual display in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Manchester United - the Magpies' first at Old Trafford in more than 41 years - just as he had done as Pardew’s men defeated the Red Devils 3-0 at St James' Park in January last year.
Tiote has returned to somewhere near his best form in recent weeks after struggling along with many of his team-mates last season.
He was dogged by indiscipline in 2012/13, picking up a staggering 15 bookings and one red card.
Ahead of Saints’ visit this afternoon, hee has been hugely influential in a run of five victories in six league games which has left his club just three points above Saints and three off a Champions League place.
The midfield enforcer's resurgence coincided with Pardew's decision to hand him the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini, but it has shown no signs of waning since the Argentinian's return.
Pardew said: “I can reflect on the two Manchester United games - the 3-0 was the best performance he ever gave this football club, closely followed by that performance [on Saturday], so he can do it against the top clubs.
“When we drew 4-4 with Arsenal, that day he was unbelievable, so he has had some big, big games for us, don't forget about that.
“He is playing very well, though. I was very reluctant to take the captaincy from him after he did so well with it. “But he has proved to me irrespective of whether he wears the armband or not, he is brilliant.”
If Tiote has been the midfield rock upon which Newcastle's improvement has been based, the man in front of him has been no less influential.
France international Yohan Cabaye scored the winner at Old Trafford to further underline his talent, although the yellow card he collected means he will be missing as Newcastle attempt to extend their run of three home victories against Saints.
Cabaye's absence will mean a pivotal role for Dutchman Vurnon Anita, who was drafted into the side for the United game. The 24-year-old former Ajax midfielder has had to remain patient since his £6.7million switch to St James’ in August 2012, but Pardew has kept a close eye on his development and is confident he can do a job for him.
He said: “I would expect him to get 20, 25 appearances this year and for a second year at a big club, that's a good start.”
Asked if Anita would be asked to fill Cabaye's boots today, the manager said: “I don't think there's any questionable doubt that he will start.”
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