The midfield dilemma

This man is looking good in a Newcastle shirt
I think it must be a long time since I’ve had to say this about NUFC but our midfield causes a big selection dilemma. It’s been a while since we’ve had such a good versatile midfield brimming with talent like we currently boast.

It pleases me to say this because last year at times we relied on the likes of Alan Smith and Ryan Taylor to fill in at central midfield, which was not pretty at all.

Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Haris Vuckic, Mehdi Abeid, Shane Ferguson, Alan Smith and Ryan Taylor.

Not bad eh? In that crop of players there are five I would quite happily see play central midfield in the Premier League – Joey Barton, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling – and I’m sure most Premier League teams – barring the top six – would think the same. Also we have three players who mainly play on the wing in Marveuax, Ben Arfa and Jonas. Them eight coupled with the youth of Mehdi Abeid, Shane Ferguson and Haris Vuckic really excite me, and then you also have the last resorts of Alan Smith and Ryan Taylor.

There are three players out of them who have really staked a claim for a chance this pre-season with very good performances.

The first of them is Dan Gosling, I wasn’t sure how he’d return after a bad injury, but he has shown that he is really a candidate for a starting place. He’s the engine in the midfield that we lacked last year when we played Kevin Nolan, he’s always on the move and looks like a skilful player. He also shows a great desire to get into the box at every opportunity, so I reckon he’d bag a few goals.

The second player is Mehdi Abeid, A lot of people were sceptical when we signed him, firstly not classing him as a first team player and then saying he was inevitably poor because he was a on a free. Well, he’s proved all them wrong as in the Orlando game which I watched he was one of our only shining lights, he showed skill, awareness and an eye for goal with a header which just went wide – he also received rave reviews in every other game he’s featured in. He seems like a bit of a younger version of Hatem Ben Arfa, he’s not the finished article yet, more like a raw talent, but I’d certainly like to see more of him.

The third player is Sylvain Marveuax, after a poor season with injury last year I didn’t expect too much from Marveaux to soon, but in the games I’ve seen him play either from highlights or live stream I can already tell you he can cross the ball better than any of our current wingers. Many people expected Marveaux to play second fiddle to Jonas Gutierrez, and he may still do, but I hope not. Sylvain drives at the defence more and seems to know when to pass the ball or to shoot, instead of trying to beat the same player twelve times before getting his cross in. I’d like to see more of Marveaux at Leeds, so I hope his injury last night isn’t too bad and he can take to the field on Sunday.

So who would you pick? Well I’m not entirely sure. You could go with Dan Gosling, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote as a three with Sylvain Marveaux, Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba up top, but then you end up leaving out Jonas Gutierrez and Joey Barton.

Alternatively you could go with Joey Barton, Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye and Sylvain Marveaux with Hatem Ben Arfa playing off the forward, which will either be Demba Ba or a new striker, but then you have to leave out Dan Gosling who has really impressed this pre-season and Jonas Gutierrez, who was the mainstay of our team last year.

This means that we can play a couple of different formations with ease and hopefully we should be able to cope with any injury crisis that comes our way. But when the team is fully fit, I’m glad I’m not the person that’s picking the team, because I’d want to play seven midfielders.

I know it’s not our decision to make, but I thought it was interesting to see the talent that we have, maybe we’re not as “weak” as people think, food for thought?

41 thoughts on “The midfield dilemma

  1. That is a fantastic looking midfield for us, but I think we all know at least one of those will be leaving us, and I think the guaranteed player to exit is Smith, we’ve already told him he can go for nothing, and there is no way Ashley will keep paying Smith £50,000 (i think) a week to sit on the bench and get injured lots ???
    As I said in the last article, going onto the striker saga, wikipedia says Erdinc agreed to join us on the 26th and will wear number 11, look for yourselves, if anyone knows of this being true then confirm ??? And what is going to happen to Lovenkrands if Erdinc has number 11 ???


  2. I don’t see why cabaye is everyones favourite to start, the way I see it, gosling plays, he has shown his worth in pre season over in yank land, cabaye should earn his way in this year! As joey done last year! Good article and am really pleased with the selection dilemma. TOON TOON


  3. great for getting the mind going jobey.
    colm rose,tak nee notice of wiki m8 anyone can change it to suit themselves


  4. The midfield looks good until you look to the future when half of it will be sold on the last day of the transfer window with no replacements coming in;-)


  5. Ah i see Icedog xD I was under the impression it could only be changed by the producers or something hehe, my bad


  6. I agree our midfield is looking very strong; all we need how is another striker and a replacement for the Bullock. If that replacement can also play across the backline I think we will have a good squad.


  7. I reckon a 3511 could be the answer to the midfield dilemma , presuming we do not sign another striker (Erdinç) .
    And I’d start Jonas – Cab – Joey – Tiote – Marveaux With HBA behind Ba .
    And with 3 CBs , we could use Saylor , Colo and Willo AND still not need a LB replacement for Jose .

    Anyway , back to FM for me 😆


  8. Christ did you not notice the little bit of humour in my post? I thought a little winking face thing meant it was tongue in cheek?


  9. Sorry, missed the subtlety. If a face had come up instead of the semicolon, hyphen, end bracket I might have got it 😳

    And you don’t have to call me Christ – Bris will do. 😉


  10. ———————-Ba———————-



    I would probably start with this formation for now, and replace Cabaye with Ben Arfa if he is fit and playing well.

    Backup would be:



    We still have Fergie to play on the left, Gosling can play anywhere, Ben Arfa isn’t even in those line ups. And to be honest, I just don’t see Guthrie getting a game. And I rate him a decent player… So good signs.

    I’d sell Guthrie and look to bring in a young talented defensive midfielder.


  11. No prob mate, it would seem my smiley face thing didn’t work for some reason! 😉

    I do admit I still worry about Tiote being sold though.


  12. Cabaye will have to earn his spot. He aint bad but will need to work his way into the team. Most of his goals last season came from the penalty spot so lets not fool ourselves into thinking he is a goal scoring midfielder. I think if we could get rid of Smith and Guthrie before the start of the season we’d still be looking good. Gosling looks like a perfect replacement for Barton in my mind and will be gunning for his spot by the end of next season.


  13. Difficult to call, really. With Ben Arfa injured, I think we’ll see Cabaye in behind a lone striker, Gosling and Tiote in CM, Barton on the right and Marveaux on the left. Remember, Cabaye was amongst the top 5? high scorers in the french league when he played in that position a couple of years ago.
    ———- Tiote ———–
    Barton —————Marveaux
    ———— Ba ———–

    With Benny boy back…well, that’s anybody’s guess.


  14. Oops, didn’t know that, Charlie. 7 of his 15 that year were penalty conversions, you’re right. Okay then, it’s your call, Pardew!


  15. Fantacy Football Time 🙂



    That’s without injured Ben Arfa and with Cabaye on the bench. Personally, if Marveaux is as good as people in France think he is, barton has another good season and Gosling comes good. I think this midfield would be pretty good.


  16. So the club are to take the Newcastle United sign down on the East stand and replace it with Sports Direct @ St James’ Park?

    That will go down well! I’m not keen on that to be honest. Wouldn’t be bothered about them having a sign on the stadium but not taking the Newcastle United sign down.


  17. @17 yeah was not sure of the exact number but I actually thought it was more. & still aint bad but with Barton getting three in pre season with a reserve team around him I think he still has top spot. Cababye is a good player no doubt lets hope he can adapt to the English league. Just wish we could have seen him play so I’d give him a shot against Leeds


  18. Defensive midfield,
    Tiote/Abied and Cabaye/Gosling
    Attacking Midfield
    Marveaux/Jonas and HBA/Vuckic and Barton/Raylor

    Each position has a good option although would love to see Raylor replaced with Barnetta

    Still if we can offload Smith, Routledge & Raylor, we still have Ferguson & Richardson as back-up


  19. after pre season id like to see a strong atacking team!!! maye be krul
    tavernier staylor colo jose
    jonas barton tiote cabaye marveux
    i think that would be mint!!!! thats a team thats not scared to blast up the field!


  20. ben arfa..why hasnt the club said anything…when we have a bad injury..we say nothing…why..they even tell us lies about that…smith gutheri and r.taylor out…smith isnt going to make are bench and if he does what is the point on having him..he is a joke..and leave or he isnt a man..


  21. The football manager in me would love to see


    Be interesting to see if Pards tries out 3 at the back again…problem is basically no cover, if two got injured we’d be fooked


    Could always work 😆


  22. Our midfield on paper is one of the best about. It’s full of creativity and steel with pace to boot and some flexibility on positions. Of course that’s on paper as we don’t know how these lads are going to settle. If they gel straight away it could be great, but if they don’t well……


  23. Prem and up – I see i was just very suprised he could play that role. That could be interesting though as he seems creative and pacy – an interesting mix for a DM. In reality i am glad n zog hasnt come to toon as he wouldnt necessarily be guaranteed a spot and could cause problems (remember duff!)


  24. Colm Rose, If Erdinc is going to be our new number 11 then who will be our new number 9, maybe we might hace a nice surprise in store…. surely we cant start a season without the famous no 9 shirt filled especially since we received all that money and promisexs from the caroll sale. I would also love to see the very promising Eden Hazzard come to the club, i think he’s going to be a class act in a year or two


  25. In all seriousness I feel Dan Gosling deserves a chance to prove himself this season. He’s done well in pre season and he’ll be dying to play after being injured for so long. Trouble is, who do you drop?


  26. As awesome as our midfield is, I would definitely have taken zog and guaranteed him a start…4-3-3 would then have been obvious, and we could have sold guthrie for a bit of cash as well.


  27. In addition to a striker, another attacking player that can play RW and at striker would be a nice addition. Obviously, Gervinho would have been perfect, but a another in that mold has to exist


  28. If AP was considering playing a 3-5-2 (or 1-1) we would have seen it on the USA tour. The 3 back system requires more pace in the back than we have. Colo is one of the slower CB’s in the league and will get pasted in this system. We still need, IMO, a right back. Simpson is a weak-link and I was not impressed with Tavernier the other night. Raylor is a decent back-up, but not a solution. Midfield looks strong and full of options, but forward line looks weak. We need at least one quality striker, not Defoe or Crouch either !


  29. Yep, midfield is sorted. A nice mix of young uns, internationals, proven prem performers and new blood. Although u can add Guthrie to the ‘last-resort list’ thankyou please….

    Just need a starting striker, a left back to replace Jose, a starting quality CB and i’d quite like a RB too

    Then we’ll be golden

    O, and don’t sell Barton or Tiote for f’s sake……


  30. Nice to have competition for places. Was really hoping to get to leeds this weekend but cant now….looking forward to seeing how we do when all the lads are together


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