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?