Two unsettled clubs: Newcastle United v Arsenal match preview

Posted on August 12th, 2011 | 16 Comments |

Newcastle United v Arsenal match preview.
Gunners are our visitors on Saturday.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the 2011/2012 Barclays Premier League season to begin. First up for the Magpie’s is the visit to St James’ Park of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal. This game of course was the same fixture last season which has gone down in Premier League history after the two sides ended up sharing a 4-4 draw. Can we expect the same drama come Saturday afternoon this time?

If you’re not heading to St James’ Park for the game, you’ll be able to find it via ESPN, kick-off time is at 5.30pm (BST). Undoubtedly ‘Mr. Happy’ Craig Burley will probably be co-commentating this fixture, so you may want to mute your television sets, or you could tune in to radio Newcastle while watching the action unfold. I’m also sure Robbie Savage is now a ‘pundit’ for ESPN, so you might want to tune in 5 minutes or so before kick-off.

Right on to the football itself and Newcastle approach this fixture on the back of another ‘dramatic’ pre-season. It started with crowd troubles at Darlington and ended with the shock transfer of the season being concluded as Enrique departed for Liverpool. Sandwiched in between saw captain Kevin Nolan depart, some new arrivals from France, the U.S tour, visa troubles and ‘tweeting’-a lot of ‘tweeting’. I’m sure I’ve missed more bits from the pre-season, but that’s not the point of this thread. Let’s take a look now at what might be our line up on Saturday afternoon, starting with the two squads:

Newcastle United:

From: Harper, Forser, Krul, Coloccini, Saylor, Simpson, Williamson, Smith, Tiote, Cabaye, Abeid, Guthrie, Obertan, Marveaux, Ferguson, Jonas, Raylor, Gosling, Vuckic, Ba, Best, Ranger, Ameobis, Lovenkrands.


From: Szczesny, Fabianski, Sagna, Vermaelen, Djourou, Gibbs, Rosicky, Ramsey, Song, Walcott, Arshavin, Gervinho, Van Persie, Squillaci, Jenkinson, Lansbury, Chamakh, Traore, Frimpong.

As you may have noticed Hatem Ben Arfa is missing for this match (a left-backs missing too). He is rumoured to be around 5-6 weeks away from fitness, but I’m not sure if that means ‘full’ fitness. Newcastle adopted a 4-4-1-1 / 4-2-3-1 formation in the game at Darlington and in the first match vs Sporting Kansas in the states, with Ben Arfa playing behind the lone striker.

It remains to be seen if Pardew will alter back to a 4-4-2 due to Ben Arfa’s unavailability like he did when up against Columbus Crew when he partnered Ba with Ameobi. So formation wise I have no idea what he will do unfortunately, though I would like to think our game plan doesn’t have to dramatically change due to one player (Ben Arfa) missing.

The abundance of midfielders at our dispense means again, it’s almost impossible to phantom who’s going to be selected. I’d like to see young Vuckic given a run out at some stage and I’d imagine Dan Gosling’s excellent form throughout pre-season will see him included in the match day starting eleven. Joey Barton looks likely to be on the bench and probably introduced at some stage for what could be his final farewell to the Geordie public.

Midfield enforcer and card collector Cheick Tioté has finally managed to get past his visa problems and looks certain to start alongside new arrival Yohan Cabaye. These two together in the centre of the field is about all I’m actually sure of thus far in regards to the midfield. If Cabaye plays it will be his competitive debut fot the Magpie’s and there could also be debuts for Sylvain Marveaux, Demba Ba, Mehdi Abied and Gabriel Obertan. Below I’ve had a guess at the possible starting eleven, though deep-down I believe Pardew will adopt a 4-4-2 and partner Ameobi with Ba.

Possible line-up for the Arsenal game.
Possible line-up

As you can see I’ve included Jonas in the Ben Arfa role. This is because Jonas has played there before, notably in last seasons 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. He linked the midfield and attack extremely well during that match and I think the arrival of Marveaux or Obertan could see him pushed into the centre.

To be honest, you can argue this line up all day, there is now so many options in midfield to choose from it’s impossible to appease everybody. I would however like to stress that I prefer that we crowd our midfield and use the talent we have there, than sacrifice one of them for Shola Ameobi.

Arsenal are currently having a nightmare pre-season with Fabregas and Nasri set to complete moves to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively. Regardless of their current predicaments, Arsenal still pose a big test for us and we must be under no illusions that their squad is too weak to pose us any threat. Their attacking prowess and the likely event of them attacking our left side with Gervinho / Walcott will be a big challenge for whoever fills that position for us. As you can see above, I’ve included Ryan Taylor at left-back, though it could quite easily be Simpson swapped over to that area. Is James Perch fit?

Last season our strongest side was easily our left. Come Sunday afternoon it will likely be our weakest. Hopefully whoever plays in our right-sided midfield position will be able to give Danny Simpson more cover than Joey Barton did, due to Barton drifting infield to help dictate the play in most matches. The arrival of Cabaye should help prevent this. Also, I have no-idea who will keep Goal. I’ve gone for Krul, though it could easily be Harper. I doubt Forster will be between the sticks but stranger things have occurred…

So, two teams meet on Saturday that played out the famous 4-4 draw just six months ago. Hopefully we won’t have to endure the first 26 minutes of the last encounter again when we found ourselves 4-0 down. We all know what happened by the end of that match, the character and determination showed through and we fought back from a seemingly impossible situation. Lets hope this ‘new look’ Newcastle side have managed to learn to retain the ball better and still have that drive and character that was evident last season.

All the talking stops tomorrow, it’s game on, so lets see what we’ve got…

Howay The Lads.

NUFCBlog Author: Jimbob Backpacker extraordinaire and current resident of sunny Sheffield. Loves Marmite, hates peanut butter. Sleeps twice a day, wrestles Polar Bears because he can and regards himself as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce. Jimbob has written 40 articles on this blog.

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16 Responses

  1. Joey as I said mate, we have a lot of options. As you say, I’d like to see Vuckic in behind the striker, but I don’t think he will start. Remember this is Pardew we are talking about.

    As I’ve said in the thread I think he will do this if he adopts this formation. But he will probably start Shola with Ba in a 4-4-2.

    I don’t know! Good suggestions though mate.

  2. I´m liking this possible starting XI and good to have players like abeid, vuckic and obertan ready to come off the bench

  3. if ferguson is fit i would get him in at left back, really dont fancy raylor!! how about kadar also or is he injured??

    here’s my team-

    thanks for using the site btw

  4. You’re welcome FFC, good little site you got there mate.

    As for Ferguson, he only returned to training yesterday. I really don’t think he is a left-back either. He is also extremely light-weight and needs to bulk up a little. He would be a great impact sub (in midfield).

    Having Raylor there is hardly ideal, but Simpson struggles in his own position, so I think Raylor will get the nod.

    I think young Kadar is injured also.

  5. I understand gosling has been outstanding during pre-season but yeah where´s that kadar fella?

  6. Shola will start me thinks.. just signed a new contract and the only striker to look match sharp in pre-season. Ba is too risky on his own.
    Pardew all but ruled marveaux out – but that could be a red herring..

    Something tells me harper may start too- but I’ll go with you on Krul..

    simmo/willo/colo/s taylor

  7. Interesting reading and I think we should put 5 across the middle, either a straight 5 or 2-3. this will help protect a weak left back, no matter whothat is. Sadly though, it would not surprise me to see Harper as GK and Shola up front as he is no impact sub like Ba could be. Having said that I would put Gutty out wide, push Cabaye behind Ameobi with Gosling alongside Tiote and Obertan out right. Left back is anyones guess. perch???

  8. Harper in goal for me like.
    He steadies the defense better.
    Can’t Kadar play left back, is Ferguson fixed yet?

  9. Please, none of this pumping it to a lone striker shite.
    We’ve a very mobile MF now & should utilize this. We don’t need the one up top being regarded as the only one that can score, after all, it hasn’t been the case for a couple of seasons already.