Hull City-Newcastle United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Newcastle United will be aiming to continue their terrific start to the season as they welcome newly promoted Hull City to St James' Park on Saturday.

Alan Pardew's Newcastle (2-1-1) were hammered 4-0 by Manchester City on the opening weekend of the season, but have defied their critics to pick up seven points in their three league games since - conceding just once in the process. Fit-again Hatem Ben Arfa was the star of the show in last weekend's 2-1 win over Aston Villa, and the French attacking midfielder is targeting a level of consistency to secure a place in the hearts of the club's supporters.

"I want to be like (David) Ginola and (Faustino) Asprilla and entertain every week," said Ben Arfa. "We hope we can fill the stadium out and do something similar. There is respect from our fans for players of the past and now we want to be remembered in the same way by entertaining the fans. In Newcastle, there is such respect for the players. I was surprised at how much though. I'm a player now but when I'm finished, I hope it will be the same.

"The manager has told me I need to be consistent. I need to do it every game. Not one game on and one game off. Villa is out of the way and I must do exactly the same against Hull. I want to be at that high level."

Steve Bruce's Hull (1-1-2) have enjoyed a solid start on their return to England's top-flight. The Tigers' poor finishing denied them all three points in the 1-1 draw against Cardiff City last weekend, and wide-man Sone Aluko knows that the team must rediscover the form that saw them almost take points off Manchester City before the international break.

"There's never going to be an easy game for any team in the Premier League," said Aluko. "We're going to Newcastle who are a big club with a big fan base and they have some very good players as well.

"But we showed when we went to Manchester City that we will compete away from home and we want to dictate to teams how we play as well. I'm sure we'll try and do the same at Newcastle and it should be a good game."

Newcastle have injury doubts over Steven Taylor (knock), Shola Ameobi (knock), Gabriel Obertan (hamstring), Mike Williamson (knock), Jonas Gutierrez (hamstring) and Massadio Haidara (knee), while Ryan Taylor (knee) remains out. Hull are missing captain Robert Koren with an ankle injury.

Hull finished one point above Newcastle in 2008-09, condemning the Magpies to relegation. Just a point for Newcastle on the final day against Aston Villa would have seen the Tigers go down instead.

Pardew's side come into this game on the back of consecutive Premier League wins and have not won three on the bounce in league play since a six-match run from March 18-April 21, 2012.

Including their previous stint in the top-flight, Hull have won just one of their last 35 away matches in the Premier League.

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