Newcastle United have been difficult to work out this season. From the sublime (Man City away) to the ridiculous (pick any of an extensive list – I’ll go for Rob Elliot falling down when Stewart Downing to bore down on goal on Saturday – I’ve never seen anything like it). How good or bad United are is still up for debate but defeat at a rank West Ham team maybe indicative of Alan Pardew’s ability to set the team up than the team’s position below West Ham this season.
A trip to Lancashire three days after West Ham could be viewed as a blessing or a curse. Whoever we play, the crippling injury list we have makes winning any match seem like an impossibility at the moment. I’d actually fancy our chances just as much with the players we have unavailable than the players we do. I’d be driving down on Tuesday confident in the following team (4-3-3) getting three points:
Krul, Janmaat, Good, Coloccini, Santon, Colback, Sissoko, Abeid, Obertan, Aarons, De Jong.
This being United you’re not really sure who is actually injured and for how long or who we’re going to rush back from injury next. Colo is rumoured to be back. If he’s not we’ll get beat. Aarons is in training but not expected to feature. God we need him. Obertan is a huge miss at the moment as we lack the pace we enjoyed so much in our renaissance.
How Pardew opted for Mike Williamson over Steven Taylor is beyond me. I drone about Williamson on the podcast but if you’ve not heard, when is the last time you saw Williamson play well? Until QPR last week, Williamson hadn’t been involved in a league or cup United win this season. That says it all. He mullers Coloccini who has to baby sit him. He’s a professional footballer who is terrified of the ball. Dummet is awful on the ball but he doesn’t hide. Dummet doesn’t point up the pitch whenever a midfielder contemplates giving him possession. Taylor came in and was extremely competent in the games in which he featured. Without Colo, Taylor and Dummet should be the back two.
However Janmaat’s injury could lead to Dummet playing RB and Steve Taylor coming into the team anyway. Expect Anita to get a game. I wonder what Vurnon thinks of his move to NUFC. He needs to play in a three man midfield and has had his moments for us but you’d struggle to find a player to have adapted to English football any worse.
Pardew’s praise of Sammy Ameobi after QPR was baffling – he works hard and makes poor decisions, that’s it. Cisse should partner the excellent Perez up front, to give us a chance of scoring. We’ve scored 6 goals in our 7 away games. Mackemesque.
Tiote was back on Saturday and is still a shadow of his former self. Has a player ever picked up more injuries for the club on the training ground. What is he doing? I’d much rather see his old form where he picked up 13 bookings a season and missed 2/3 games through suspension. He’s injured that it’d make no difference and opposition players would be scared of him again.
Likely line up (assuming no one regains fitness/is rushed back prematurely from injury):
Elliot (lol), Dummet, Williamson, Taylor, Haidara, Goufrann, Tiote, Anita, Sammy, Cabella, Perez.
I have as much idea about the formation will be as the players will.
A more lightweight Premier League team you’ll not find.
As for Burnley you’d have to think anything less than three points in this game will be a huge disappointment for them. They know we’ll sit back and invite pressure (but without the pace in the team to play on the counter attack) and they’ve only got 2 injuries to worry about in Matt Taylor and Sam Vokes – who are by no means guaranteed starters. To put it bluntly if they can’t beat Newcastle reserves at home they’ve no chance of staying up.
Their form is good having picked up consecutive wins against Hull (who are awful) and Stoke away from home. They rely heavily on the goals of Danny Ings who has 5 in his last 4. They rescued a point against Vile at the weekend with a late pen and should have really won the game. They’ll have targeted 4 points minimum from these two games so I expect them to come out with a lot of intent – far more than West Ham did on Saturday.
The admirable Sean Dyche plays 4 4 2 almost every game, which creates a chance for us to do the same and take the game to the Clarets. We won’t. Dyche never really complains, doesn’t bang on about how much money the opposition have spent and is convinced hard work will keep Burnley up.
They’ve only really been humped once, by West Brom away from home. They’ve picked up notable draws against Man Utd and the Sunderland at home and have only been beaten by Everton, West Ham & Chelsea (all 3 -1).
United will be backed by 4,000 of us (paying scandalous prices). Defeat would see Pardew under pressure with Chelsea, Arsenal and a crucial derby to come.
I’m convinced we’ll get beat.
Follow Alex at @tfalex1892