With a lot of options in our squad at the current time it lead me to have a think about what would actually be our best side if everyone was to be fit.
Last year this was a lot easier for me to do, but this year we have a lot of options going forward which will be causing Alan Pardew a positive headache.
I’d say the goalkeeper pretty much picks itself with Tim Krul having a brilliant last year or so between the sticks for Newcastle. Steve Harper and Rob Elliot are way behind Krul, who in my opinion is one of the best goalkeepers in the league.
The right back spot is the next position up for grabs and it’s a real difficult choice for me. I’m not Danny Simpson’s biggest fan, but he’s not a bad player to have at right back and he’s not really let us down this season. But I’m going to go against Simpson on this one and go for Davide Santon. The Italian international just has a little more class for and I feel he could really stake his claim for the right back spot in the coming weeks. He’s right footed so it would make sense to play on his stronger side. It would also give us a bit more class going forward and he could link up well with Gabriel Obertan.
The centre backs pick themselves in my opinion, Steven Taylor and Fabricio Coloccini are by far and away the best two central defenders that we have at the club. Mike Williamson and James Perch are well behind them in class, and I don’t think any of them will be threatening the first team in the near future. Them two are one of the best central defensive partnerships in the Premier League at this current time, and they’re the rock of our defence.
At left back I’d controversially go with Ryan Taylor, I’m sure a lot will be wondering why after his performance at the weekend, but everyone has a bad game and I feel he was very unlucky. Ryan Taylor gives us too much going forward to drop him, his free kicks plus his crossing ability let us cut in from the left hand side and deliver dangerous crosses for our strikers. People say that Jonas Gutierrez covers him too much, I’m not so sure, Jonas does lots of work but he did the same for Jose Enrique, and Enrique still got the credit. Ryan Taylor helps Fabricio Coloccini a lot more than people think too, he covers his left hand side which goes unnoticed.
The right hand side would be completed with Gabriel Obertan, that’s another one which may surprise a few as he’s often the recipient of some unfair criticism. Obertan’s raw pace and trickery is something that gives us an added dimension going forward. Nobody else in our team gives us this, he also works hard going backwards. When he gets a bit of confidence behind him he could really become a top Premier League winger.
The central midfield also picks itself, and as you can imagine the two players that I think should play are Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote. That’s no disrespect to Danny Guthrie, because I really rate him as a great stand in but he’s not quite the class level of Cabaye and Tiote. Cabaye and Tiote would get in a lot of Premier League teams and they’ve really started to form a great partnership with a balance of class, creativity and defence. These are two players we need to keep for a long time.
The left hand side would be completed with the ever present Jonas Gutierrez, sometimes he can be frustrating, but my god he works hard. The Argentinian left winger does his fair share of both attacking and defensive work and wins us countless amounts of free kicks which really takes the pressure of us when we’re under the cosh. Gutierrez gets plenty of stick for his lack of end product, but this season he’s been good in my opinion and he doesn’t deserve to lose his place.
Now it’s the two forwards, our one forward and one floating midfielder in this case. I’ll start of with praise for Leon Best who’s been a brilliant player for us in the last year or so, but I think his time has come to make way for Hatem Ben Arfa. Leon Best will still get games when Demba Ba is away with Senegal and if we were playing a physical team, but at home and against the better teams I feel we should play Hatem Ben Arfa.
Ben Arfa gives us a bit of flair and class which we’ve lacked in some of the games since our promotion from the Championship. He played very well against Man City if you take away the penalty and he’s beginning to show that he’s returning to his best. He hit the post at the weekend and created a great chance for Demba Ba in a game where they showed that they can link up effectively.
That leads me to the final player in my team, unsurprisingly it’s going to be our Senegalese centre forward Demba Ba who’s had a great start to the season. He’s looked very good and has filled his boots picking up the match ball twice already this season. He gives us a bit more than Leon Best as he’s much better positionally and he has a bit more pace. But I definitely wouldn’t be gutted to see Leon Best come in to give Demba a rest.
Just to let you know, this isn’t the team I want to see right now at this time, but I think it will be our best team over time. Recapping over that my team would be;
[4-5-1] – Tim Krul, Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Gabriel Obertan, Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba.
What would your first team line up be?