Going into Newcastle’s first game of the season there are so many questions surrounding Alan Pardew’s starting eleven. Who will play left back in place of the departed Jose Enrique? Will Tim Krul get the nod in goal? Will Pardew play with five in the middle or opt for two up top? How many of Newcastle’s new Frenchmen will make it into the team? And of course, will Joey Barton be selected for the match at St James’ Park?
Let’s start with Barton. It is being reported in this morning’s newspapers that the controversial midfielder will start this evening against Arsenal, which can only be good news for Newcastle. Barton was on fire last season and in the same fixture clearly got under the skin of the Arsenal players. If his Twitter account is anything to go by, he clearly wants to play for Newcastle. Let’s just hope he does start today and puts in the sort of marauding performance that he is more than capable of as he looks to prove a point.
It looks odds on that Tim Krul will start in between the sticks and in front of him there’ll be Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini alongside Steven Taylor in the heart of the defence, with Danny Simpson at right back. Then there’s the problematic left back slot, which could be filled by a number of players, but Ryan Taylor may just get selected. Simpson could play left back and maybe Dan Gosling on the right hand side, but I’d be weary of switching too many players about.
If Barton is let loose on Arsenal, personally I’d go with a five-man midfield. Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye are dead certs in the middle of the park, and alongside Barton they’d make a decent trio. Sylvain Marveaux doesn’t quite seem up to speed yet, so Jonas Gutierrez should start on the left, with new signing Gabriel Obertan on the right. These two could switch, but Pardew might just find a place for Gosling who has had an impressive pre-season. That leaves Demba Ba up front on his own, with Shola Ameobi or even Leon Best options if Pards goes for a two-man attack.
So, I think Newcastle might line up as follows:
Simpson – S Taylor – Coloccini – R Taylor
Obertan – Barton – Tiote – Cabaye – Gutierrez
What starting eleven would you go for?
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