Captain Cabaye

The 27-year-old Frenchman has been handed the captain’s armband in the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini, and he has accepted the responsibility in full.

Yohan Cabaye is happy to let his football do the talking as he attempts to lead Newcastle up the English Premier League table and to European glory.

The 27-year-old Frenchman has been handed the captain’s armband in the absence of the injured Fabricio Coloccini, and he has accepted the responsibility in full as Cabaye dragged the Magpies back into their clash with Stoke to set the stage for Papiss Cisse’s last-gasp winner.

Cabaye, who has made a nonsense of the GBP4.8 million price-tag with which he arrived at St James’ Park from Lille during the summer of 2011, insists he is not equipped to deliver impassioned speeches in the dressing room and prefers to lead by example.

The France international said, in perfectly good English: “The manager trusted me and the club trusted me, and I want to give them back this confidence on the pitch. For me, it’s a new role. My English is not very good to speak in the dressing room, I just want to lead the team on the pitch and I hope I am doing well.”

In a game short on craft, it was fitting that both Newcastle’s goals came courtesy of the kind of guile which eluded the home side for long periods, but did not appear to be in the visitors’ armoury at all.

Stoke arrived with a plan designed to frustrate at one end of the pitch and force errors at the other, and while they were clinically efficient in the former respect, they lacked invention in the latter.

However, they were handed a way into the game with 67 minutes gone when, for reasons best known to himself, Newcastle midfielder Cheick Tiote took Jonathan Walters’ legs from beneath him inside the penalty area and the Republic of Ireland international put his recent spot-kick woes behind him to beat goalkeeper Rob Elliot comprehensively.

It was then that Cabaye chose his moment.

Glenn Whelan’s miscued back-pass prompted a desperate dash back towards his own box in an attempt to rectify his error, but he compounded it by bringing down Moussa Sissoko, mercifully just inches outside the area.

But the respite was temporary and, despite referee Andre Marriner spotting Cabaye’s attempt to move the ball back a foot to give himself more room, the Frenchman caressed an exquisite free-kick over the defensive wall and in off the underside of the crossbar.

Cabaye said: “I wanted to move the ball back, but the referee didn’t want me to. I just wanted to hit the target. The wall was so tall and I couldn’t put any pace on my shot. I just wanted to hit the target. I love this kind of free-kick and I practise them a lot on the training ground, so I am very happy.”

The decisive moment arrived two minutes into injury time when substitute Sylvain Marveaux threaded a pass through a for once porous Stoke defence and, with Marc Wilson playing Cisse onside, the striker teed himself up before firing home.

Cabaye said: “It’s fantastic because it was a very difficult game, a very tough game. Stoke came with a nice shape, a nice unit, 4-4-2, and it was very difficult for us to play. But we won the game at the end and for us, it was fantastic.”

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