In part one of our look at the depth and talent Newcastle have at their disposal, we looked at our defensive options, with most agreeing that a quality full back and central defender would be more than adequate to ensure we look sound defensively for the season ahead.
This time, we look at our attacking options and the necessity for offensive strengthening.
It now seems certain that we will have Demba Ba for another season, as the supposed “clause” in his contract has now expired according to media reports. Will Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Shola Ameobi provide enough ammunition up front? Do we have enough creativity in our central midfield to challenge the big boys? And how good will the service be out wide? Let’s take a look at what’s available…
Attacking centre midfield: Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Romain Amalfitano, Dan Gosling and Haris Vučkić
Yohan Cabaye is clearly our main creative force in the centre of the park. I haven’t included Cheik Tiote because his role is to protect the back four and despite the ability to play a good ball I don’t see him as a playmaker.
We all know Cabaye’s credentials, but what happens when he gets an injury or suspension? Who steps into the role now that Danny Guthrie is wearing the colours of Reading.
Romain Amalfitano seems to be the man who is to replace Guthrie, although from what I have seen of him to date, he has played more of a position out wide. Hatem Ben Arfa is an option, but does he have the work rate required to be a midfield engine like Cabaye is? Perhaps Dan Gosling can show his true worth and deserves and opportunity?
I believe our best option for this position is Haris Vučkić but he needs to get fit and stay fit. Perhaps buying someone like Vernon Anita would allow us to play two deep lying midfielders which would give someone like Ben Arfa more freedom to stay forward and create havoc up front? Or will we be using Jonas to perform that role again?
Left wing: Sylvain Marveaux, Jonas, Demba Ba, Hatem Ben Arfa, Romain Amalfitano, Shane Ferguson
For a few seasons now, most of our attacking play has come down the left side. Jonas has been our main man for a while, but I have high hopes for Sylvain Marveaux this season. The mere fact that he is naturally left footed and has a good final ball would be a huge asset to us.
If we look at the options available to us I honestly believe this is a position which we have well and truly covered with both defensive and more attacking options.
Right wing: Hatem Ben Arfa, Gabriel Obertan, Sylvain Marveaux, Jonas, Romain Amalfitano, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi
For me, the right flank is an area where we have an abundance of options, but not an abundance of quality.
Hatem Ben Arfa seems to do well in a 4-3-3 formation on the right side, but is inconsistent when being deployed as a right wing in a 4-4-2. Ryan Taylor has a decent final ball,but in my opinion it is still overrated, while Jonas has never really been given an opportunity on the right, Amalfitano is a bit of an unknown quantity, while Sammy is still very raw, and I fear, like his brother, he may be stuck in that “raw” stage forever!
For more, Obertan is actually very underrated. Yes, sometimes he looks indecisive, but we just seem to have better movement and more fluidity to our play when he is on the pitch. His work rate is also excellent and I feel that with Debuchy overlapping him, he could be our best option!
Overall, I feel we are ok but could re-access the situation and make moves if needed in the January transfer window.
Strikers: Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba, Shola Ameobi, Hatem Ben Arfa
We start this season with far more confidence in our strike force than we did last season. Demba Ba is fitter than we first feared with his knee problems, and very capable of scoring 20 goals a season. We know we have a deadly instinctive finisher in Papiss Cisse, another 20 goal a season man, and a man who can create a goal out of nothing with moments of pure genius in Hatem Ben Arfa.
And then we have Shola… who… is for the Mackems I guess.
If we lose the Demba’s to the ACoN in January we will definitely need a new striker. I personally feel we need extra quality anyway, in the form of someone who can play in the centre and out wide on the right if needed. I feel Loic Remy would have been ideal if he was affordable. However, Andy Carroll for me would be a pure luxury, not a necessity and therefore simply isn’t needed, especially at the reported price tag.
In summary, two offensive players would be enough to give us a seriously potent attack. Those players preferably being a young central midfielder and a striker who can play just as well out wide. The chances of us getting both at the moment are almost zero, so I would suggest a forward/winger is of far greater importance at the moment.
In the youth department we have the following players coming through:
Attacking centre midfield: Mehdi Abeid, Dan Gosling, Haris Vučkić, Michael Richardson, Brad Inman, Romain Amalfitano, Gael Bigirimana.
Left wing: Shane Ferguson, Romain Amalfitano, Yven Rochild Victor Moyo.
Right wing: Romain Amalfitano, Samuel Ameobi.
Strikers: Nile Ranger, Adam Campbell, Jonathan “JJ” Hooper.
Looking at this, it immediately stands out that we could use an additional quality young striker. Someone who, at around 19 or 20 years of age could immediately be challenging for a first team place.
So, do you agree that offensively, one quality addition, preferably a strong youth prospect would be enough to see us looking very strong?