Does our midfield stack up with the best?

A vital cog in the NUFC machine...
With a lot of people hailing Newcastle’s strong midfield strength and depth it made me wonder how it stacked up against our Premier League rivals.

I’m going to compare both our wingers and our central midfield separately against all of the teams I think we could be challenging with for a top seven position this season.

Firstly I’ll look at our central midfielders as I feel that’s our strongest area in our squad. To avoid any confusion, or attempt to anyway, and try to segregate players into different roles, any central midfielders that usually play off the striker will be categorised under wingers, for example Hatem Ben Arfa.

Newcastle United – Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, Mehdi Abeid.

Arsenal – Aaron Ramsey, Alexandre Song, Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere,Yossi Benayoun
Aston Villa – Fabian Delph, Stilyian Petrov, Jermaine Jenas, Barry Bannan
Chelsea – Frank Lampard, John Obi Mikel, Michael Essien, Oriol Romeu, Raul Merieles
Everton – Jack Rodwell, Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman, Tim Cahill
Liverpool – Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva
Fulham – Danny Murphy, Steve Sidwell, Clint Dempsey
Man Utd – Anderson, Michael Carrick, Park Ji-Sung, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley
Man City – Nigel De-Jong, Gareth Barry, Yaya Toure, James Milner, Owen Hargreaves
Tottenham – Luka Modric, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Niko Krancjar, Sandro

After looking at the players that formulate the central midfields for other teams challenging with us I’d say we have one of the best central midfield partnerships around, with strength in depth.

I’d say there are only a few teams on that list that have a better central midfield than us currently. I’m discarding the players who are currently injured, Essien, Huddlestone, Wilshere, Gerrard and Sandro being the most notable absentee’s.

The teams who I think that have a much better central midfield than us are Tottenham and Man City. Chelsea are very average in the middle with little creativity without their powerhouse Essien. Arsenal are also noticebly weaker without Jack Wilshere, meaning a central midfield of Arteta, Song and Ramsey is understrength.

Man Utd have a one paced midfield with very little creativity and no pace and I wouldn’t swap any of their central midfield for ours. Liverpool are probably the next closest to us, Charlie Adam can do some good, but his world cup ball attempts are frustrating. With Gerrard never being fit they’re left with Lucas or Henderson, which are not a patch on either Tiote or Cabaye.

The others aren’t that close to our midfield in my opinion. Man City and Tottenham have good midfields in my opinion. Tottenham have a nice fit of Modric and a holding midfielder, their fluency is something that makes them as good as they are.

Man City on the other hand are just unmatchable in my opinion, they’ve got unlimited funds and have an abundance in quality in midfield. Yaya Toure can play both attacking and defensive, and De-Jong – although a dirty git – holds the midfield well and distributes the ball to the passers in the team.

Few of them teams can match the link up play and confidence in our central midfield. Cabaye and Tiote are a perfect fit in my opinion, Tiote sits and marshals the midfield playing the simple ball and breaking up play, and Cabaye goes further forward but can still tackle and sit if need be. He’s also shown he’s got a cracking strike on him.

Next I thought I’d look at the wingers, somewhere that we’re quite strong but arguably not as strong as our central midfield.

Newcastle United – Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Sammy Ameobi, Haris Vuckic.

Arsenal – Gervinho, Andrey Arshavin, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Aston Villa – Charles N’Zogbia, Marc Albrighton, Steven Ireland.
Chelsea – Juan Manuel Mata, Salomon Kalou,
Everton – Seamus Coleman, Royston Drenthe, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov
Liverpool – Dirk Kurt, Stewart Downing, Maxi Rodriguez
Fulham – Zoltan Gera, Damien Duff,
Man Utd – Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs,
Man City – Adam Johnson, Samir Nasri, David Silva,
Tottenham – Gareth Bale, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Aaron Lennon, Steven Pienaar

Compared to the rest of the league we’re slightly weaker on the winger/attacking midfield front, but we easily compete with our direct competition just outside of the top 6.

In my opinion we’re miles behind the likes of Man City, Man Utd and Tottenham who have great strength in depth when it comes to attacking options. They all have 3 or 4 great attacking midfielders who would get in most Premier League teams.

Chelsea who have little strength in depth when it comes to attacking midfielders still boast Mata who’s a very impressive player, but when it gets passed Mata they’re lacking attacking midfielders. That may be because Chelsea chose to play with a 3 in midfield formation.

The likes of Arsenal and Liverpool have decent attacking midfielders, but the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Downing, Arshavin and Walcott aren’t really that special for a top team. I don’t feel we’re far behind them – if behind them at all – boasting four good attacking players in the form of Ben Arfa, Gutierrez, Marveaux and Obertan.

Teams like Everton, Aston Villa and Fulham all have one good winger, but behind them they’re really struggling for depth, unlike us who have four good wingers who I’d feel happy with in the team.

I know this article may seem a tad deluded, but I’m not saying we’re better than these teams, but a certain component of our team – the midfield – can compete with the best in my opinion.

Which teams midfielders or wingers would you take over ours at this current time?

24 thoughts on “Does our midfield stack up with the best?

  1. I think anything from 8th and up will be a good result this season .. don’t think we match up that favourably with anyone of say manc / manu / chelsea / arsenal / tottennham / liverpool – except for cabaye and tiote who in direct fight against another central midfield paring in a 4 4 2 formation do compete with almost everyone. toon toon.


  2. Zoltan Gera now sits on the bench for WBA! I would class Dempsey more as a winger for Fulham. Saying that, a decent read, and something I agree with!


  3. Don’t think we can compare our midfield to any of Man U, Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham, or Arsenal…

    I think we are somewhere between 6th and 8th.

    Which would apply for our defense, and strike force as well, which is why I see us finishing anywhere from 6th to 8th this season. And that would be fantastic.

    I think 7th place would mean European Football so I’d love that.


  4. I’m not sure how some can say we can’t compare our midfielders & wingers to those of the supposed top 6 clubs, as in the fact that neither Arse-nil, Spurts, Vile or Fulham have beaten us this season & yet our players have only played together for a very short time, were these other teams have been together for a few seasons or more….

    The fact that our players are playing as a unit across the middle, in defence & up front, shows that it doesn’t matter if you have 11 star names, if they don’t play as one, then they won’t win… our team, especially our midfielders are playing as one & thats why I personally don’t think they will care who they’re playing against, be it the Toffee’s, Manc Citey or Chelski, they’ll stand up & be counted, surprising everyone…

    Yes we may well get beaten by the likes of the Mancs in the next few games but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we may give one of them a surprise, especially if our players hunt down the ball like they did against Stoke… just watch this space is all I’m saying 😉 😉


  5. I think if we finish 7th we’ve come top of “our” league.

    Competing in the Europa League and finishing 7th again next season would be a huge challenge.

    We would need a number of new signings in the summer to increase the squad size and quality, especially the defence.


  6. Whilst I appreciate our wings attacking-wise aren’t as good as some – they make up for it with an unbelievable work ethic and defensive side to their games.

    We have the hardest working wingers in the league. Which when combined with our CMF – is helping us concede so few goals.

    If we maintain this work ethic – we will end up with an amazing season. If your not conceding goals – you can’t get beat.


  7. Most other teams have had their midfielders playing together for longer than ours so ours is one of the few that is likely to improve, providing they stay here long enough…


  8. I don’t think it’s deluded – although I do rate Walcott and Arshavin pretty highly. Best midfield since Sir Bobby days. We ain’t 3rd for nowt!


  9. Bit of a clumsy article this. Would have been better to either lump all midfielders together or group them properly as attacking, defensive and wide midfielders.


  10. TC – True, but then you head into allsorts of realms of opinion. For instance what is Cabaye? Attacking or defending as he’s spent his time doing pretty much 50/50.

    Rodwell, Fellaini are the same and so are loads of others. Complete midfielders. How do you separate them?


  11. Yeah I know Toonsy – probs best to just lump them all together then.

    Just think its a bit pointless comparing “wingers” when half the players mentioned aren’t wide men at all.


  12. Hadaway an shite man Toonpipes.

    We all know it’s a false position.

    Come Saturday we’ll be second where we really belong! 😀


  13. I think you are being very harsh on the Chelsea midfield – calling it “very average” is way out of proportion. You didn’t mention Ramires, who plays almost every game for them, and if you count youngster Abeid as a member of our strong midfield, you have to name McEachran for them too .. It may not be the most creative midfield in the league, but by no means are Chelsea average in the middle of the park ..
    Also according to you, they only have two wingers in Mata and Kalou. What about Malouda? Given that they mostly play 4-3-3, a player like Anelka also becomes a wide player, as does Sturridge when Torres is playing up front ..



    Just read this… and as much as I hate paul merson this is the first time I agree with a pundit. I really hope no toon fan really believes everton are going to be a push over here.

    Get behind the team tomorrow and DO NOT become complacent! Losing to Everton tomorrow would come as no surprise 😯

    I can’t wait to give Leighton Baines shit for having a hairstyle from the 1970’s.

    Best if luck to the lads tomorrow! 😈


  15. Slow on here this morning innit, Toonsy.

    Looks like I’ll have to do some work to pass the time instead 😉 😀


  16. I just hope AP has finally developed a plan to deal with 433 or 451. Wigan’s 3 midfielders outplayed our lot and the number of times they got in down between Colo and Raylor was alarming. If they don’t play with wingers then no amount of backtracking by Jonas helps. Moyes will have watched that and the Stoke game!


  17. I would say our MF is in the top 6 overall, we have better parts than others in the top 6 but some parts are weaker than the top 6 if that makes sense.


  18. Good article Jobey, and its an interesting point. I think our centre mids have to be way up there with the best, we do have some strength in depth but I really think Tiote is the key-we didn’t miss him that much at stoke as the relatively slow midfield of stoke as well as the small pitch meant guthrie and cabaye and even perch could put themselves about without having to go into overload, on bigger pitches with more passing teams he’ll be a huge miss.

    In regards to wingers, well defensively and in terms of work rate you can’t fault either Jonas or Obertan, and Marv and Arfa have great quality going forward. We really can’t compare to the likes of man u though, I mean so long as our strikers are doing the business and we remain sharp at the back it’s good news, but if we start having off days our goals will have to rely on moments of magic from jonas or set pieces/long shots by cabby. It’s great having a solid defense so far but you can see just by looking at the goals scored stats we lack the penetration of the “big teams” but maybe that’s just due to the defensive duties of our wingers?


  19. The proof will be whether our midfield can be consistently good over the whole season, and beyond.
    I think it is too soon to be rating them so highly. We have only played 10 prem matches so far with them, it could still all unravel.
    I like Pardews mantra, one game at a time and we’ll see how it goes.
    So far so good, and Everton will be another tough test.


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