AVB looking to avoid early KO at SJP? Newcastle vs Chelsea preview

Posted on December 2nd, 2011 | 20 Comments |

Chelsea flags.
Chelski: The last of our terrible trio of fixtures.
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle.
Date: Saturday 3rd Dec, 2011.
Kick-off: 12.45pm.
Referee: Mike Dean.

Newcastle United will be looking to maintain their fine home form (undefeated in ten games) and increase the pressure on Chelsea’s beleaguered manager, André Villas-Boas in the 12.45 kick off at St James Park, Newcastle on Saturday.

NUFC report that the game is sold out so a capacity crowd will be able to watch an intriguing match up between the fourth and fifth placed teams both of whom have injured DM’s missing from their respective sides.

Cheick Tiote, who has been linked with a move to Chelsea in recent months, will definitely miss the game adding to concerns by some fans that he’s been left out deliberately in order to avoid further injury in the run up to January’s transfer window.

Worryingly, manager Alan Pardew said:

“I am not going to say he will be fit for next week. We must make sure he is right because he is a very important player to us.

“There is no complication. It is just a little niggle which we just can’t get over the line at the moment”

Presumably that little niggle is called Del Lias?

So Danny Guthrie is expected to fill in once again while Jonas Gutierrez will also be missing as he serves a one game suspension for his sending off at Old Trafford.

Arguably part of Chelsea’s current malaise is down to the continuing absence of their midfield maestro, Michael Essien. Without his presence Chelsea seem to lack drive and creativity in the centre of midfield. The young teenager Josh McEachran (seen by some as a natural successor to Essien), who made his senior debut against the Mags last season in the 3-4 League Cup defeat at Stamford Bridge hasn’t travelled due to an injury he sustained during Tuesday’s home defeat to Liverpool.

Before we discuss the teams and the formations for Saturdays game, it is with deep sadness we at .ORG have to mention that the Premier League have confirmed there will be a minute’s applause, prior to kick off, in memory of the late Gary Speed who proudly wore the black and white shirt for over six years, playing 284 competitive games for the club.

However the planned tribute by the club, a guest tenor was to have led the crowd in a rendition of the Hymn “Cwm Rhondda”, has now been postponed in order to allow Louise Speed and her family to attend the next home match and join in celebrating the life of her late husband.

The Teams

Newcastle United v Chelsea possible line-ups.
Newcastle United v Chelsea possible line-ups.
Such was the mood going into these three tough games (Citeh, The other Mancs and now Chelski) most fans would have been happy with a point at home to Chelsea. Yet given the current poor form of the lacklustre Blues (knocked out of the Carling Cup in midweek and losing three out of their last five league games) many will feel this is an ideal time to take on the product of Roman’s roubles.

NUFC Provisional squad

Goal: Tim Krul, Rob Elliot.

Defence: Danny Simpson, Ryan Taylor, Davude Santon, Shane Ferguson, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Steven Taylor, James Perch.

Midfield: Yohan Cabaye, Dan Gosling, Danny Guthrie, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vuckic, Alan Smith.

Forwards: Demba Ba, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands.

Pardew believes he has a number of options to consider when replacing the suspended Gutierrez. He is apparently toying with several ideas as he looks to take on the side trying to take over NUFC’s fourth place spot.

The manager said:

“We’ve still got a strong team. Danny Guthrie’s been terrific, and we’ve got Sammy Ameobi, Dan Gosling, Haris Vuckic and Peter Lovenkrands, who can all do a job in the absence of Jonas”.

The Newcastle boss took time to pay tribute to the Argentine by saying:

“Jonas has been brilliant – he’s a big loss. He’s been in great form. It is a blow and no Cheick, that’ll be a blow as well”

Mystifyingly, Pardew also added:

“It’s better to get that news out than Chelsea finding out through the team-sheet.”

He went on to give some clues to the possible replacement by stating that whoever takes over on the left must quickly forge an understanding with Ryan Taylor, who has experienced somewhat mixed fortunes during the first part of this season. He said:

“He’s protected Ryan, and Ryan’s helped Jonas the other way. It’s a really good tandem effect.”

Pardew then admitted:

“I never assumed, after losing Enrique, that Jonas and Ryan would play as well as they have done because the link between Jose and Enrique was very good. It’s difficult to break a bond like that, but Ryan’s come in and matched what Jose did.”

So no place for Santon at left back judging by those comments, but possibly a role as left sided Wing Back? Other more obvious options would be to switch Obertan to the left and bring in young Dan Gosling on the right of midfield or maybe move HBA to the wide position and allow Vukcic to sit just behind Ba?

However I’m assuming that as Sammy Ameobi took the role of wide man while Obertan was unavailable, maybe Pardew will choose him to take on the role of support LB ? Whichever personnel he selects it’s a fair bet that we’ll line up in the now familiar 4-4-1-1 with HBA hopefully linking up with Ba a little more effectively ?

Meanwhile, Andre Villas-Boas has decided that enough is enough as far as Torres is concerned and will rest the Spaniard until he rediscovers some “form” which is somewhat of a mixed blessing for NUFC. Undoubtedly an in form Torres is one of the top ten strikers in Europe, however that well known expression involving the words “cows arse” and “banjo” could be applied to the Iberian right now. .

AVB went on to say:

“We’re going back to 4-3-3 at Newcastle and Didier (Drogba) is showing good signs of returning.”

“Fernando has shown in the past he has that ability and we’ll continue to pursue it. It must come with time and confidence but Fernando is facing tough competition.”

“We still believe in him and we will continue to pursue his individual form.”

“Our task as technical staff is to get the best out of the players. If we cannot do it, that’s when we fail and we have to improve.”

“We didn’t play well on Tuesday and we must take a lesson from that.”

From that we can assume Drogba will spearhead a front three along side Mata and Sturridge. AVB likes his wide attackers to come inside onto their stronger foot, with the right-sided Juan Mata playing down the left, and the left-sided Sturridge down the right.

The midfield will probably be anchored by former Barca trainee Romeu who has begun to show the kind of form that warrants having a stunning £20m buy back clause inserted into his contract from his former employers. Likely midfield partners could be Lampard, Ramires or Raul Meireles with Terry and Luiz in central defence.


As we all know NUFC’s major strength this season has been the outstanding defence which, if Raylor keeps his place will have remained unchanged in the League. Coincidentally that is one of Chelski’s weaknesses while they have played the high line that AVB seems to prefer.

However the Blues are a good passing side and have some very skilful and talented players who can inflict damage on unsuspecting opponents. Their main threats will come from out wide with both Sturridge and Mata capable of scoring from individual pieces of brilliance, so both Toon full backs will need support from their midfield colleagues.

If, as we assume, AVB will opt for a target man in Drogba, rather than a quick striker like Torres, we should be able to press higher up the pitch and push Cabaye further forward to help our attacking play. Later, if Torres does get a sub role, we could then resort to dropping deeper and hopefully by then we could be protecting a single goal lead which is something we do very well.

The key for NUFC, in an attacking sense, is to try to get at their defence as early, and as quickly, as possible because swift attacking breaks can trouble the slowing Terry (HBA please note) and the highly unpredictable Luiz.


Close fought but ultimately entertaining draw. 2-2.

NUFCBlog Author: AndyMac AndyMac has written 13 articles on this blog.

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20 Responses

  1. Superb preview Andy!

    I especially liked the Chelsea analysis and you’re right about Essien. He’s a hell of a player and they miss him alot.

  2. Canny gesture by the club to postpone the Gary Speed tribute ’til Mrs. Speed can attend.
    It’s really nice that she wants to be at the Leeds & Newcastle tributes.
    It must be real tough for her.

  3. and her bairns, christ knows how they will get through thisbut with enough love and understanding they will i hope .
    RIP gary speed,one of the true greats

  4. Thanks Andy, a great read. I agree we could catch them early, even if we don’t score it will put them on their back foot and they’ll play for a draw.
    This is a fight for 4th place, we are the form team, we are at home – we have earned respect so let’s show them why!

  5. A strange report says villa are after Guthrie – just as he is comming good – will we decide that its him or Tiote to go? I’d keep them both.

    BTW – great result for Palace at manure! We should consider that Darren Ambrose, mid 20s & 20 goals last season – I could just picture him in black & white stripes! (pity souness couldn’t)

  6. I’ve updated the preview with Andy’s possible line-up / formation image. Didn’t get it until after the preview was posted.

    Clint, you’ve got your heed stuck right up Llambias’ arsehole man! Have they given you the Ashley Ludovico technique?

  7. Not long left until kick off. really positive about today. I just hope whoever is in place of Guti can protect Raylor, unless he is pushed forward and Santon is started at LB.

  8. I don’t think we’ll see many changes to the team. I reckon AP will give Raylor a vote of confidence and he will play as usual. HBA will slot into a midfield role and Best will partner Ba up front. I wouldn’t be surprised at us running out as comfortable winners.

    Toss-up between Keane and AVB out of door after Bruce?

    And Martin O’Neill taking on a big job, I reckon he’ll succeed where others have floundered. Despite the (at times bitter) rivalry, we would miss Sunderland in the EPL. Brucie to Chelsea? :)

  9. Hellsbells, after saying yesterday how pleased I was that we didn’t get Bentner (thought he was under-rated until his 5under1and record) – I wake up this morning to read we may get Bentner!
    I think I’ll keep me gob shut for a while – I have nee idea whats gannin on!

  10. It appears that Alex looks more likely to start at CB with Terry in place of Luiz and Mikel as the holding mf ahead of Romeu, although most Chelski fans prefer the ex Barca man apparently.

    I’m not sure about Sammy’s ability to

    a) last a full 90
    b) track back and defend
    c) create enough against top class defenders

    and I still think he’s better deployed as an impact sub. However Parwho likes to keep an unchanged side as much as possible so my option to shift HBA to the left and bring Vukcic in as an extra mf is a non starter :)

    BTW thanks for your comments however I’m sure that “normal” service will be resumed by next week. Personally I’m putting Clint in the frame for it :)

  11. What about Ferguson on the left, surely he’s ready made for it as he is a left back/midfielder. Did he not have a good game against Chelski in the recent past? All be it in the League cup.

  12. Yup good call BT but he doesnt appear to be in the “squad” atm, dunno why !

    Echoing phisix’s concerns about covering Raylor, Fergie would surely help plus he can deliver a decent ball into the box. However I recall he got caught ball watching a couple of times last season, when playing left back, and Pardwho talked of “beefing” him up a bit as he had converns he was too easily shoved off the ball.

    As another alternative, Santon could bed himself in as a LWB instead of having all the pressure on him from the start against the in form Sturridge ? Dunno about his crossing capability though ?

  13. worky,

    I was merely stating the fact that JB had decided to keep his own counsel, apparently.

    I kiss no one’s ass, affiliate with no one & therefore resent & refute your assertion.

  14. Clint, sorry, I didn’t notice your comment until now.

    I was referring more to your praise of Llambias’ latest utterances, where he made quite sure that the world’s media knew just how “touched” Louise Speed was by his magnificent gesture of having some kind of tribute to the player. That bit was unnecessary and obviously just a calculated PR move. Also, you are constantly making snide comments about players who get on the wrong side of Llambias and Ashley. I think you’re just confusing Llambias and Ashley with Newcastle United.

  15. worky,

    on the Louise Speed thing, i wasn’t thinking of ma or dl in relation to that, more the fact that ‘the club’ in general made a good move postponing the tribute for her.
    Couldn’t give a shite who sanctioned it.

    As for ex players dragging us through the shite, don’t care who it is, i think it sucks whenever i read/hear it. An ex player has to be great ( a la Gary Speed) for them not to come across like a tool after the event. Speed & his ilk show the way to behave after moving on from a club. Gary’s excellent behaviour after moving to us from everton being a case in point. He had no wish to make everton look bad, no matter what had transpired, & kept whatever it was to himself. That’s why he will always be a legend at NUFC, 6 & a half years, hardly ever injured, model pro.

    I supported Barton 101% when he played for us, as i do with all our players. Even when he went down, did all the dumb things he did. But after his one great year of football & his move i feel no allegiance to him whatsoever.
    I, as i stated the other day, in fact find him a quite erudite & articulate guy, funny sometimes too, but that doesn’t get him any extra points with me.
    He is also guilty of trying to play us (Toon fans) like a fiddle, as he knows full wel that no one likes ma & dl.
    Hope that goes someway to explain my position?

    If that doesn’t tally with others views, i’m happy with that, being a maverick/loner type.

  16. CLiNT FLiCK says:

    December 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    “He is also guilty of trying to play us (Toon fans) like a fiddle, as he knows full wel that no one likes ma & dl.
    Hope that goes someway to explain my position?”

    It does Clint, and I do understand some of your points. However I would contend that Ashley and Llambias are trying, and succeeding in many cases at playing us like fiddles. They are using their minions, the name of the club, and also subterfuge to peddle false and manipulative guff about former players and managers, feeding into all the negative stereotypes and making us look like fools, which we are. They are so low that Llambias has even been using the name of Gary Speed and his widow to further their agenda, which is beyond the pale IMO. You seem to have fallen for it hook line and sinker if your previous comments about former players such as Andy Carroll and others are anything to go by.

  17. I fully understand the board’s ham-fisted attempts at PR, i have fallen for nothing.

    I just refuse to let my attitude towards NUFC to be F***ed with by either them or sour ex players.

    Players who leave without a problem i have no truck with.

    I try never to take past shit into new situations, & try to judge a situation in real time on it’s own merit/s or otherwise.
    & i certainly don’t care what others say/think/do, i make my own mind up based on the info at my disposal & my decades of experience as a NUFC supporter & human being in general.

    Of course, with a football club it’s difficult for one to stop supporting just because of owners/players that aren’t to one’s taste.