Five games into the Premier League season and we are currently sitting fourth with a total of nine points and find ourselves unbeaten in both the English Premier League and the League Cup.
I have been delighted with the start to the season so far but the question I’m raising in this piece is whether or not we’ll be able to continue this run?
At the start of the season when I saw the fixture list for our opening three or four games of the season I thought it could be a very tough start to our campaign to consolidate our Premier League position. How was I to know that we would end up drawing with Arsenal, winning against Sunderland and with five games into the season finding ourselves in fourth place? Not that I’m complaining of course.
Defensively we already look a better side than we did last year and the work that Alan Pardew has done with the defence during pre-season looks to have reaped huge benefits for us. Both Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini look a lot stronger than they did last year and both seem to have worked on their stamina to be able to sprint and not use their reserves. Steven Taylor looks like he has lost a lot of the weight that he gained throughout last season and that has done him the world of good as he looks like a very solid player for us. The addition of Davide Santon will be one that helps the defence to continue this unbeaten run although Ryan Taylor has so far put in performances to indicate that he is very capable of playing at left-back.
Tim Krul is now our number one goalie and he has certainly demonstrated in the six games so far that he is a very very good goalkeeper. Notably in the Carling Cup match away to Scunthorpe he made a number of saves throughout that kept us in the game. In the games that we have played so far I have felt very comfortable with him in goal and his performances will be vital in helping us to continue our unbeaten run.
There have been changes in the midfield with Yohan Cabaye taking over the place of our previous captain Kevin Nolan. Cabaye has been adjusting to the Premier League and the style of English play but I noticed in the Aston Villa game this was when he looked most comfortable. In the game on Saturday he certainly showed that he can produce the goods for us. The midfield does look very strong with Cabaye and Cheik Tiote in the middle of the park. Those two will be able to win the balls for us in midfield when the games need someone to take charge. In addition to this we have Gabriel Obertan and Jonas Gutierrez who are two traditional wingers who will be able to help the defence out in times of need.
Leon Best in particular has shown that he is able to provide goals for us. He has scored a total of three so far and I think he will be able to add many more to that total for us this season. He looks very nifty up front and his partnership with Demba Ba could be one that we will see more of this year.
With the return of Hatem Ben Arfa we have another ‘piece of the jigswa’ added to our side that will hopefully help us to continue our unbeaten run. A fully fit Ben Arfa (touches wood) will be devastating. He showed in the game against Everton last year that he has a phenomenal left foot on him. He will be the type of player who can run at defenders, crossing the ball and contributing efforts on goal. I definitely think that Ben Arfa will become a key player for us this year and I am looking forward to seeing him playing regularly in a black and white shirt.
The tactics that Pardew displayed during the Villa match show that he knew how to break other teams down and we were unlucky not to take all three points from that game. It also shows that he learns from mistakes in previous games. My case in point being the QPR game where we were unlucky not to be thrashed three or four nil. Pards made several changes to the way that we played in that game for the match against Aston Villa and it reap dividends as the team played considerably better than they had done. From this I think that Pardew is another key piece in our jigsaw for keeping this unbeaten run going and he has demonstrated this in our six games so far this season.
Overall there is a lot to suggest that we are capable of keeping this run going and as the team are beginning to click into gear. I think that the team will be able to perhaps punish sides that we play, although we haven’t seen any of it yet when the team finally begin to gel I think we may be a force to be reckoned with.
This is perhaps the making of a very strong Premier League side.