ROBERTO Martinez has hailed Newcastle United as the total package ahead of Wigan Athletic’s trip to the North East this afternoon.
The Toon are flying high this term, and are the only side outside the two Manchester clubs to remain unbeaten after eight games.
It’s been a quite remarkable story, considering the departure of several ‘star’ names over the past 12 months including Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan, Jose Enrique and Joey Barton.
And Martinez acknowledges the fact Latics will have to be on their guard all over the park if they are to come away from Tyneside with a result.
“I’ve been impressed with the manner in which they have played as a team so far this season,” Martinez told the Evening Post.
“Newcastle are a confident side at the moment and, with the support of the home crowd behind them, they will be difficult to play against.
“Collectively they’ve found football happiness now and that will make it difficult for us.
“If you had to highlight a partnership, you have to look at (Cheik) Tiote and (Yohan) Cabaye – they’ve been outstanding – but Demba Ba has come up with some important goals too.
“It would be wrong to say Ba is Newcastle’s main danger man, though. He’s been able to come up with goals that can change games, but Leon Best has also been doing that.
“Jonas Gutierrez is also in the best moment of form he’s enjoyed since he arrived in the English game, while Gabriel Obertan is a really young and enthusiastic talent.
“Everywhere you look they’ve got real experience, they’re strong across the park, and that’s what makes them a resolute and determined opposition.
“Newcastle have got a very high tempo about the way they play, but then on top of that they have got the individuals who can make things happen out of nothing.”
Rather than worry about Newcastle, though, the Wigan boss has called on his side to take the initiative and get the memory of last weekend’s horror show against Bolton out of their system.
“We know the defeat on Saturday was self-inflicted and, in a way, it gives you a lot of margin to work on that because you can turn things around,” he added.
“It wasn’t that the opposition was better than us or won a game without us being able to do anything about it, it was more a case of rustiness.”
Hugo Rodallega is set for a return to the Wigan starting line-up after making his comeback from a knee injury as a substitute a week ago.
There could be changes elsewhere as Steve Gohouri had 45 minutes to forget out of position at left-back, which could signal a return for Maynor Figueroa.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has virtually a full squad to choose from, with only Mike Williamson on the sidelines.
Skipper Fabricio Coloccini (toe), Haris Vuckic (broken hand) and Alan Smith (hamstring) are available.
Newcastle (from): Krul, Elliot, Harper, Simpson, R. Taylor, Santon, Ferguson, Coloccini, S. Taylor, Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Obertan, Gosling, Guthrie, Ben Arfa, Abeid, Vuckic, Smith, Ba, Best, Shola Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Sammy Ameobi.
Wigan (from): Al Habsi, Boyce, Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa, Watson, Diame, Moses, Gomez, McCarthy, Di Santo, Jones, Pollitt, Stam, Van Aanholt, McArthur, Lopez, Thomas, Sammon, Maloney, Crusat, Gohouri.