Gabriel Obertan has been ruled out of the game against Everton this weekend as he suffers from a toe infection.
Alan Pardew has described the loss of Obertan as a “real blow” and it looks as though the 22-year-old Frenchman could be out for between three and four weeks.
Obertan has played a rather large part in our unbeaten start to the season in my view. There seems to be this trait amongst NUFC fans whereby some are unable to see the effect a player has unless they show something tangible, like a goal or an assist. Whilst Obertan has had his poor moments and has attracted criticism from some fans, it mustn’t be ignored that he has also had good moments and that just his presence is altering our game and making the opposition think twice.
Think back to last season when we had Joey Barton on the right. Don’t panic, I’m not going to bitch about him, but I think it was fairly clear to the vast majority of fans that he used to go missing from that right hand side of the pitch and had a tendency to tuck inside. In fairness the middle of the pitch is his natural position, so that is kind of understandable.
However it did leave our right flank susceptible to opposition attacks as it allowed them pretty much a free run at Danny Simpson. It also took away a threat on the break as Barton would be somewhere in the middle of the park and would need to get back out on the wing before play could be stretched.
With Obertan we have the opposite of that. He stretches the pitch by staying out wide, he tracks back, most of the time, and has pace to burn which offers us a threat going forward, especially on the counter-attack like we saw at Stoke. Looking at it from that perspective I can see why Alan Pardew is a bit gutted to have lost the former Manchester United man to injury.
“Gabby has an infection in his toe. It looks like he could miss three or four weeks – a big disappointment,” Pardew told the Chronicle during his pre-match presser.
He then went on to talk about Obertan’s start to life at NUFC, and revealed how impressed he has been with the Frenchman:
“Gabby is a really good player for Newcastle to have and I think he’s done fabulous for us so far and his presence has been part of an unbeaten start to the season. I am really, really happy with him.”
“On occasions you want to see him open his legs a bit more. But he has to get that fine line between when to attack and when to keep the ball.”
“Gabby is so quick sometimes it’s easy to expect him to be perfect in everything he does. He is still learning because he’d only played 14 or 15 games when he came to us from Manchester United.”
However Obertan’s absence shouldn’t be a major problem for Newcastle as when one Frenchman drops another can fit in.
The easy option would be to give Sylvain Marveaux his long-awaited chance. The former Rennes man has impressed whenever he has played whether it be in the reserves, League Cup, or brief appearances in the league. He could easily play on the right in place of Obertan, and from what I’ve seen he could make that spot his own at the expense of his compatriot.
Another option would be to play Hatem Ben Arfa on the wing although you’d have to think that is a virtual no-go given Pardew’s claims that he can’t really play there as he doesn’t enjoy it. Whatever the case, we have options to cover the loss of Obertan.
It’s been a while since I could say that!