Newcastle United 5 Stoke City 1: Alan Pardew praises strength in depth as crushing victory keeps them in European contention

Newcastle responded from going a goal down to put five past nine-man Stoke

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The Independent Football

Alan Pardew is gunning for Arsenal after seeing Newcastle overpower nine-man Stoke in a remarkable encounter.

Potters boss Mark Hughes was left fuming by the performance of referee Martin Atkinson, who sent off midfielder Glenn Whelan and defender Marc Wilson and ordered the Welshman to the stands inside three frenzied first-half minutes of his side's 5-1 defeat at St James' park.

But the Magpies emerged from a controversial Boxing Day fixture with a seventh Barclays Premier League win in nine to set themselves up perfectly for Arsenal's trip to Tyneside on Sunday.

Pardew said: "I look at the team and we have got some tremendous assets who haven't been seen for a while - Hatem Ben Arfa did some unbelievable things today; Papiss Cisse scored; Shola Ameobi made another telling contribution and Massadio Haidara showed his influence with that left foot of his, with which he hit some great balls in.

"We have got a lot of assets in the background, and it's about just keeping rolling along and trying to win as many games as we can.

"We have been on an incredible run, really. I'm not sure any team has beaten that run over the last nine or 10 games this season, even Arsenal, so we have set ourselves up for what will be an intriguing encounter, and we will probably know a little bit more about this team after Arsenal."

If Newcastle were clinical after the break, they were less than effective before it as the visitors took the game to them and secured a deserved 29th-minute lead through Oussama Assaidi's accomplished curling shot.

However, it was then that the wheels came off for Stoke as Whelan was booked twice inside six minutes and last-man Wilson saw red for hauling down Loic Remy.

Thomas Sorensen saved Remy's resulting penalty, just has he had done previously at St James' for both Sunderland and Aston Villa to deny Alan Shearer, but he was beaten by the Frenchman seconds later as the Magpies hit back.

The numerical disparity between the two sides was made to tell after the break with Yoan Gouffran firing Pardew's men in front three minutes after the restart and Remy, Yohan Cabaye and substitute Papiss Cisse all scoring, the latter from the spot for his first league goal since April.

However, Hughes was scathing in his assessment of Atkinson's contribution.

Asked if he has been in to see the official, he said: "No, I couldn't trust myself to go in, to be perfectly honest.

"We all say - managers, players, everybody - that you just want the referees to make decisions that are correct and make the key decisions that don't have a direct impact on the result.

"Unfortunately, some of Martin's decisions today had a direct impact on the result."

Hughes was sent from the bench after kicking a loose ball on to the pitch in frustration, and he later apologised for doing so.

He said: "That was because there was a ball near me and I just needed to get rid of some frustration, so I booted it on to the pitch, which was totally the wrong this to do, so I apologise for that.

"But I would like to think you would understand my frustration at that point."