Pardew: French contingent will cope
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is confident his French contingent can cope with the gruelling demands of an English Christmas programme.
Twelve months ago, the Magpies headed into the holiday period teetering on the brink of disaster having won just two out of 12 games in all competitions since the beginning of November, including successive Barclays Premier League defeats by West Ham, Swansea, Southampton and Stoke.
That prompted owner Mike Ashley to make a significant splash in the January transfer window to recruit Mathieu Debuchy, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran.
The Magpies avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth but have pushed on since, and this time approach Christmas having won six of the eight matches they have played during the corresponding period, with the imports from France making key contributions.
Pardew said: "They have not really been through those horrible months that we had last year, November and December, so it's new to them.
"But I think they will cope. They look really strong at the minute. We have really worked hard on our fitness levels and therefore, I think we will be okay."
Debuchy, Sissoko and Gouffran in particular have become central figures in Newcastle's resurgence, which continued apace with Saturday's comprehensive 3-0 victory at Crystal Palace.
It is a measure of the influence Pardew's Frenchmen are having on performances that strikes from Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa, either side of Danny Gabbidon's own goal, extended their stranglehold on the club's scoring stakes.
They and their compatriots have now contributed 22 of the club's 24 Premier League goals this season, with Loic Remy on eight despite a five-game drought, Gouffran on five, Cabaye four, Ben Arfa three and Debuchy and Sissoko with one each.
Only Gabbidon and the Magpies' own Welsh defender Paul Dummett have interrupted that streak, with the latter scoring as a substitute in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool at St James' Park on October 19.