NEWCASTLE’S display against Manchester City has set a benchmark for the rest of the season, according to Vurnon Anita.
Alan Pardew’s side were beaten 2-0 at St James’s Park on Sunday.
But the scoreline flattered second-placed City, with United – who had a goal from Cheik Tiote disallowed – having dominated much of the Premier League fixture.
Midfielder Anita has revealed the visiting players who were, like him, randomly selected for post-game drug testing admitted Newcastle had made it “tough” for them on Tyneside.
And the Holland international feels Newcastle won’t go far wrong if they can play with the same intelligence and intensity between now and the end of the campaign.
“They had a hard game,” Anita said. “During doping, the City players told me it was a tough day for them.
“That’s a plus point for us. They are maybe the best team in the league.”
Referee Mike Jones’s decision to rule out Tiote’s first-half goal – Yoan Gouffran was stood in an offside position, but not in goalkeeper Joe Hart’s sightline – proved costly for the club.
United, trailing 1-0 at the time, went on to create a series of chances after the break, but they couldn’t find the net and Alvaro Negredo scored a second for City in injury time.
“There was Cheik’s goal, and we also had a couple of chances,” added Anita.
“We kept on playing and creating chances. We put them under pressure, but unfortunately we didn’t score, and at the end they broke on us and scored.”
Eighth-placed Newcastle will take on West Ham at Upton Park on Saturday looking to end a run of fourth successive defeats.
Anita feels that if the team can replicate its performance against City, they can take something away from the capital.
“It was disappointing, but we’ll take the positives into the next game,” said the 24-year-old, who has been an influential figure for Untied this season.
“We must play to our strengths. We need to play like that against West Ham. If we do that, I think we can get a good result.”
– MILES STARFORTH