DEMBA 1, DEMBA 2, WE’VE GOT MORE DEMBAS THAN YOU!! Therein lies the great conundrum,
that has had me tearing my hair out trying to write this preview. How the hell are the toon going
to line up this season? Our best run of form last season, was following the switch to 4-3-3 or 4-
2-3-1 (is there really any difference?). This saw Demba Ba being shifted out to the left side of
the attack, much to the chagrin of many a manager who chose the wrong Demba! This shift also
corresponded with my meteoric rise up the table as I brought in Dave and Barfa just before they
exploded. Common logic would suggest that we would continue with this formation into the new
season, especially as the expected signing of “the new Clarence seedorf”, Vurnon Anita gives us a
very strong midfield three, but then Pardew had this to say:
“Demba wants to play in a central role. He wants to get himself chances to score goals. And I
think that in 90% of the games next year that’s where he will play.”
If we choose to believe what Pardew says (and he has been known to tell a few porkies in his
time) then that means playing the double dembas up front in a partnership which will absolutely
terrorize defenses, and promote Ba in our thinking. If we are going to go with two up top AND
accommodate our three central midfielders, then the best I can come up with is the 4-4-2
With this formation, we would rely on our full backs to provide the width and so it is imperative
that we sign an attacking right-back. I’ve included Debuchy in my line up as I am convinced
(hopeful!) we will still sign him.
I will be adopting a wait and see approach to our defence. I would like to see how the possible
formation change, and extra fixtures affect our ability to keep clean sheets.
The likely lads: while Collochini is the glue that holds us together, and rightly won a place in the
team of the season last year, he is unlikely to pick up too many points outside of clean sheets
and the odd bonus. You really want to be choosing between Steven Taylor and Davide Santon.
Saylor was on course to win a place in the euro squad, before his season was cruelly ended half
way through with an Achilles injury. His all action style, with heroic blocks and last ditch tackles
made him a bonus darling (9 bp in 14 Games) and he has goal scoring previous (4 goals in the
2008/09 season). There is no threat from Williamson, who will only cover injuries and tiredness,
but watch out for a possible new signing at centre back. There is still a good chance that we
will bring in Douglas before the window closes, and he would be competing directly for the 2 nd
centre back spot. If its nailedonness that you are looking for, then look no further than Davide
Santon. The fact that he is equally adept in either full back position, and that we have no senior
cover in either position mean that he is as nailed on as you can get. Raylor might get a few games
in Santon is injured or needs a breather, but is not a serious threat to his place. Santon was really
growing into the premier league towards the end of the season and I predict that he will go huge
this year. He is good for assists and bonus and as he is a right footed, playing on the left means
that he should score a few cutting in. If we do adopt the above formation, expect him to play
almost as a winger, ala beausujour or boyce at wigan. If we do sign debuchy, then he will also
become a great option, but will likely come in more expensive than santon.
One to avoid: Ryan Taylor. Raylor is a championship standard (at best) right midfielder. His set
piece prowess is a myth. Cabeye is much better. He will be a good utility man for us to have on
the bench, but will get no-where near enough appearances to justify his 5.5m fee, unless we
have a massive injury crisis. I guess he might sneak a game against spurs if all of the reported
injuries are real!
The likely lads. If we play the above formation, then Ben Arfa could become a must have. Freed
of his defensive responsibilities as a No.10 behind the front two, he could run riot. Last season’s
5 goals and 7 assists, came in just 26 appearances. Many of these were from the subs bench.
Problems with the French team, should make him feel even happier to be in the toon where he
feels loved and appreciated, and so he should flourish. I would expect him to share some of his
gametime with Marveaux (see below). If we play a 4-3-3, with Cabeye as the furthest forward
central midfielder then he could be a great option. He excelled in that position last season, and
with Raylor off the scene, he should have set pieces.
One to avoid. Tiote and new boy anita won’t find their way into many teams this season. And for
good reason. At least last season Tiote had the advantage of a cheap price tag(4.5m) to make up
for his lack of goals and assists, but he has bizarrely increased in price this year! Jonas is another
great player, who doesn’t do well in fpl. And his place is most at threat from Anita.
The likely lads. Papiss Demba Rodney Cisse (Dave) has scored 44 goals in his last 63 games.
That is one goal every 1.4 games. Haters will say that there is no way that he can keep up his
ridiculous record of 13 goals in 14 games after signing from Freiburg in the January window,
and they are probably right. But if you think that he was having major problems settling into
the north east, and couldn’t speak a word of English, then how good will he be now he has
fully settled, and can communicate with his team mates? Also, if you watch a youtube video of
his goals in Germany, they were all scored from within the six yard box. So he was scoring at
more than a goal every two games even before he learned the art of the screamer!! I personally
believe that his second goal against Chelsea should have been worth double points! At 2m
cheaper than Dave, Demba Ba could be a great differential, if he does line up alongside Dave.
He was an absolute beast in the first half of the season, he could be again. The potential of both
dembas will be dented if they manage to overcome the Ivory Coast to qualify for the African
nations, but I don’t think that should affect our thinking at this stage.
One to avoid. Shola “Mackem slayer” Ameobi. Maybe worth getting him in for the two games
against the mackems. Avoid for the rest of the season!
THE CHEEKY PUNT
I hate the phrase “having so and so back from injury is like having a new signing”, but having
Sylvain Marveaux back is like having a new signing! He arrived with a big reputation, as much for
being injury prone, as to his creative and goal scoring abilities, and then spent most of the season
on the bench. When he has played though he has displayed real quality. He has featured in most
of the pre-season games, and as he can cover for barfa, cabeye, ba and dave, all of who are
carrying injuries going into the season he is almost certain to get a run at the start of the season.
At 4.5m I think he is more than worth the risk, and if he only gets to play a couple of games, his
price will likely rise as they see a decent starting 4.5m option! Mrs China Mag is planning to WC
after GW3 so will definitely take a punt!
For me there are too many unknowns surrounding Newcastle to go straight in with any
investment (other than maybe Marveaux). Are we going to make any more signings? How will
we line up? How will we cope with the Europa league? The tough opening schedule allows us to
assess our options. I have Santon, Barfa, and the double dembas high on my watchlist, but not
until at least GW3!