Reasons for optimism at Newcastle?

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Newcastle gained a hard earned point against Arsenal on Saturday evening without ever really threatening to win the game. Whilst we didn’t look like winning, to be fair to the players we didn’t really look like conceding either. As a side note, please do not sell Fabricio Coloccini. I thought he marshalled the back four superbly and we simply can’t afford to lose another key player.

As a spectacle the game was totally devoid of any excitement or quality in the final third. Had Fabregas and Nasri played the game would have most likely ended in defeat for Newcastle, but they didn’t play and we should be happy with a point against a superior team.

I, personally, thought that Alan Pardew got his tactics wrong. I thought the game was made for Newcastle to start with a 5 man midfield and break with pace on the counter attack. With two strikers we simply didn’t hold the ball up well enough and simply didn’t look like we could get in behind their defence. Tiote and Cabaye were overrun in the centre of the park, I would have liked to have seen Barton in the middle with them and Obertan play from the start out wide. I was very surprised to see that Vuckic failed to even make the bench after his pre-season form when we had so many strikers on the bench. We failed to offer anything in an attacking sense and it seems obvious that Ba and Ameobi are too similar to play together.

I think that the new signings performed ok given the circumstances. Cabaye worked hard and clearly has the eye and ability for a pass; he also keeps possession ticking over in the centre of the park which will hopefully aide us in breaking down the lesser teams, especially at home. Obertan showed electric pace which is something the team has really lacked for a few seasons now. However, he will have to improve his work rate. Too often he did not put pressure on the man with the ball when they were only a few yards away. Demba Ba didn’t play particularly well but he was starved of service and playing alongside Ameobi didn’t seem to suit him. Shola was fairly static, as usual, and I don’t think Ba is the type of the striker to run the channels.

Defensively I thought we were solid, although Taylor always seems to be only a moments away from a mistake. Hopefully we bring in a left back and a striker before the game with the Mackems and we can have a real go at them. Hopefully we’ll retain the ball better and offer more of a threat going forward which we should do because ability wise the teams are rather similar. Overall though, I would have taken a point before the game and I’m happy with it at full time.

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