Newcastle’s squad size has been questioned a number of times, but there was sufficient evidence present in the match against Aston Vila that they are more than able to cope without their biggest stars in the fold.
Danny Guthrie has been an able deputy for Yohan Cabaye whilst he has been banned and this was further consolidated with displays in the last two Premier League matches. He has taken his opportunity by the scruff of the neck and had a standout performance against Villa.
The ex-Liverpool player demonstrated brilliant crosses with the right amount of pace for Newcastle players to attack. Guthrie looked very comfortable whenever he was on the ball and was not afraid to push forward into the opposition’s half in order to form an attack on their goal. The fact that Newcastle are able to call on a player such as Guthrie, who has certainly shown that he is capable of holding a squad place down on match days, surely points towards at lest some squad depth?
Another player who has come into the fold recently due to the absence of Cheik Tiote is that of James Perch. Many questioned why he was even part of Alan Pardew’s squad and several fans have wanted him to not be involved in the squad. Perch has found himself play in a number of positions for Newcastle; but has had the chance to play in his natural position of central midfield. Against Blackburn and Aston Villa, Perch has put in decent performances and won over many Newcastle fans. In the match Villa, he stuck to his job set by Pardew and was not afraid to put tackles in and to play the ball in the middle of the pitch. Perch is capable of being able to play for us if we ever face injuries or bans.
Along with this, there are many other players in several positions who are capable of putting a shift in for the Magpies. Leon Best has shown that he can link well with Demba Ba but will now find his chances limited due to the fact that Papiss Cisse has now staked a place to be Demba Ba’s partner.
Gabriel Obertan has also found his chances limited since his return from injury, with Ryan Taylor slotting in at right-midfield. Taylor has shown that he can play there and is very good at tracking back to help out the defence, but with Ryan out with injury this affords Obertan another chance the side, when Raylor returns we will have someone the bench who will be able to offer us a different option if a game is not going our way.
If we take a look at the players on the bench for the Aston Villa game, it consisted of: Hatem Ben Arfa, Shola Ameobi, Shane Ferguson, Rob Elliot, Papiss Demba Cisse, Dan Gosling and Gabriel Obertan. The bench is one that is very strong and there are players on there who are able to provide a shift for us.
Now our strongest team lineup would be: Krul, Simpson, S Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Obertan, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba and Cisse. The bench would consist of: Elliot, Raylor, Guthrie, Best, Perch, Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi. That would be if every player on the bench was fit.
It highlights how there are a number of players in the Newcastle camp who are unable to find their way into the side, take Haris Vuckic for example. He found himself involved against Liverpool but has now found it hard to make his way into the matchday squad. Without FA Cup games his chances will be limited.
There are indications that Newcastle are able to cope without some of the biggest stars, this has been shown with the displays of the likes of James Perch and Danny Guthrie. However the one area where cover looks weak is that of central defence but in general the depth of the squad seems to be one of strength.
So are we really as light as has been made out?