NEWCASTLE United have James Perch and Mike Williamson to thank for a victory which kept them hot on Chelsea's heels, according to manager Alan Pardew.
A 2-0 win over Liverpool put the Magpies level on points with the fifth-placed Blues, opening up an 11-point lead over the visitors.
Papiss Cisse took his Newcastle goal tally to seven in as many games in what Pardew described as his best “all-round” performance for the Magpies. But Perch and Williamson were the outstanding performers in the absence of injured first-choice centre-backs Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini.
On a day which brought the transfer dealings of both managers into sharp focus, Pardew stressed: “Some of the players I inherited won us the game. Williamson and Perch were probably the two best players on the pitch and if we owe victory to any players, it was to them two.
“We talked about how we should approach the game and we said a bit more aggression might not go amiss. They were both aggressive in the right way and they were outstanding performances.
“James Perch in particular – some of the blocks were fantastic.”
Perch is not a specialist central defender, and has started the last three games – all Newcastle wins – in different positions.
“It (Perch’s performance) was not a surprise for me because he was probably the best player in central midfield against Norwich and one of our better players at left-back (against West Bromwich Albion),” Pardew commented. “He has that professionalism to do the best he can do, and he’s in good form at the minute.”