With the season nearing I’m sure Alan Pardew is starting to picture our starting line-up for Arsenal under his silver head of hair.
We’ve all got our opinions on who we’d like to start with and I’m sure they will probably differ, but here are my thoughts.
At the moment I think we’re lacking a second striker, we’re supposedly looking to get one in before the start of the season but I wouldn’t bank on that to be honest. Also Jose Enrique is expected to leave, but seen he is still here now he can be chosen.
Tim Krul – Tim would have to get the nod for me, even though some will claim he makes errors I feel he needs game time to improve and out of the three goal-keepers we have he’s the one in my opinion with the most potential.
Danny Simpson – This was a close one for me, I’ve been extremely impressed with young James Tavernier this pre-season and I’d have liked to have given him a chance, but as we’re playing Arsenal in a high pressure game I feel Simpson will be more comfortable and less likely to freeze on the big stage.
Fabricio Coloccini – Captain Colo is a must in every team that we pick this year, he’s someone who isn’t going to be dropped. He’s our best defender and our captain, so it was a no brainer to be honest.
Steven Taylor – Steven Taylor would get the nod over Williamson for me, and I think that’s also what Pardew is going to do. Taylor is a huge danger from set pieces and I just feel that he’s better on the ground in defence, there is no doubting Williamson’s great heading ability but I feel Taylor can match that. Taylor’s leadership is also something which will help Coloccini from the back.
Jose Enrique – I’ve been left with very little choice on this one, with Shane Ferguson injured and lack of another left back I’ve had to go with the half-hearted Enrique. Well I lie, I could have chosen Perch, but an Enrique with one leg is probably better than Perch.
Yohan Cabaye – Cabaye is somebody I’m dying to see play in a Newcastle shirt; hopefully I’ll see him tomorrow at Leeds. Cabaye has been labelled the “water carrier” by Pardew which in normal terms means playmaker; he’s someone who can pick a pass and create an opening, which is something we missed last year. He’ll also complement Tiote and help him with the midfield running.
Cheik Tiote – I’m sure nobody is surprised at the inclusion of Tiote, he’s another player who will not be dropped this season, first man on the team sheet. Tiote will have a lot to do as Arsenal usually play with three in midfield, but he’s full of running and hopefully he might be able to bag a half decent goal like he did last time the two teams met.
Sylvain Marveaux – After watching Sylvain play in a couple of friendlies I believe he should be given a chance on the right hand side of midfield. Marveaux’s trickery could prove a problem for Kieran Gibbs who I assume will play at left back for Arsenal. Sylvain also looks like he has an eye for goal, so he’d be expected to get forward as much as possible.
Joey Barton – “Everybody needs a nutter in the middle” and it’s true. Barton had Arsenal completely rattled in the last game we played against them, and I think he can do it again. As we now have two capable wingers I’d be more inclined to play Joey off the striker, he’s in good goal scoring form this pre-season and if he’s a bit further forward he’d he can once again have Jack Wilshere in his pocket.
Jonas Gutierrez – Jonas has got in the team as he’s full of running and I feel that we’d be a bit one paced if Dan Gosling was in his place. Gutierrez works well with Enrique and he’ll certainly help him track back, his tireless work-rate is certainly something which just about cancels out his poor final ball.
Demba Ba – We don’t really have much choice when it comes to strikers, but Demba Ba isn’t a bad player to have upfront. His pace and power could rattle a sometimes shakey Arsenal defence given the right service.
That’s not a bad team at all, and we have adequate cover with a bench of Steve Harper, James Tavernier, Mike Williamson, Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Leon Best and Shola Ameobi.
The likes of Hatem Ben Arfa, Shane Ferguson and Danny Guthrie all still to come into that team after injury, and the youth of Mehdi Abeid, Sammy Ameobi, Fraser Forster and Haris Vuckic are also knocking on the door, so it’s not really as bleak as some suggest.
What would your starting line-up be?