Newcastle United are paying the price for not strengthening their squad following last season’s fifth-placed finish.
Alan Pardew has seen his plans for building on that success decimated by injuries and suspensions, along with constant rumours of Demba Ba’s departure. This lack of consistency within the starting lineup has meant the team has been unable to find a rhythm anywhere on the field, and success hasn’t been easy to come by.
Pardew needs to reach into owner Mike Ashley’s pockets and bolster his fragile team in the January transfer window. The threat of relegation looms, and the team is still without key players. Below is the current situation with those injuries and suspensions, along with news from elsewhere within the club.
Cabaye’s groin injury has kept him sidelined this season, and the French midfielder is expected to be inactive until at least the middle of January, via TheMag.co.uk.
More distressing news comes in the shape of rumours linking Cabaye to Arsenal, a destination that would undoubtedly be of interest. The Daily Star reported that Arsene Wenger is keeping a close eye on Cabaye’s return from injury and could be put off making a move for him until the summer.
The final stages of this season are looking crucial to Newcastle’s Premier League status, and Pardew will need Cabaye available. His creativity in the midfield has been sorely missed this year, and his replacements haven’t been performing on the same level.
Whether Cabaye stays on Tyneside after the season isn’t something Pardew will be considering right now; his concern is getting him back to full fitness and back on the pitch.
Hatem Ben Arfa
Ben Arfa made a small comeback in the 2-1 defeat to Fulham, during which the team looked markedly improved. It seemed that his return was too soon, however, and he hasn’t been in the side since.
Pardew stated that Ben Arfa would miss the entirety of Newcastle’s Christmas fixtures (via The Independent), and there have been no signs of recovery from the hamstring injury that was aggravated during the Fulham game.
Along with Cabaye, Ben Arfa forms the creative nucleus of the team; without either of them, the service to the strikers suffers and goals from midfield are significantly reduced.
Sylvain Marveaux has finally got his chance and looks like a worthy addition to the midfield. With Marveaux on the field, there is a spark that has been missing since Ben Arfa was last in the team.
Nevertheless, the whole of Tyneside will be much happier when Ben Arfa pulls on a Toon shirt again.
Taylor suffered cruciate ligament damage in Newcastle’s 1-0 victory over Atromitos in the Europa League and was expected to be out for several months.This hasn’t changed, although Taylor stressed that his recovery is progressing well when he spoke to NUFC.co.uk:
Everything's on track - nothing's gone wrong and I've had no setbacks so everything's okay.I 've just got to stay positive. I've dealt with it now; I know it's a long injury but at the same time I've got to be quite buzzing around the place and I've got a good set of lads to work with so at the minute it's all going well."It's just been a case of letting it heal.
They've done a lot of work so I have to let it heal and then rebuild but at the same time the strength and conditioning work kicks in after about three months.
Taylor has battled back from his fair share of injuries in the past, so he knows how the process works. Newcastle badly need defensive help, and the reported signing of Mathieu Debuchy would assist in the matter.
Anita’s adjustment to Premier League football has sometimes been difficult to watch, but in recent weeks he has shown excellent touch and vision, igniting a stagnant Toon offense and looking like the player we saw at Ajax.
Antonio Valencia’s bad challenge halted that progression and Anita was stretchered off at the end of the game against Manchester United.
The ankle injury he sustained forced him out of the embarrassing 7-3 defeat to Arsenal, but his condition isn’t thought to be as serious as initially feared and Pardew is hopeful that Anita will return to action for the game against Everton (via The Sunday Sun)
Mike Williamson also missed the Arsenal game due to suspension, but will return for the Everton clash.
Taylor’s hamstring injury has kept him out of Newcastle’s defence since November’s defeat at Southampton, but the club hopes to have him back “in two or three weeks,” according to the Evening Chronicle’s Lee Ryder.
The defensive frailties of the team have been totally exposed in the last two games, with the offensive improvement nullified by the defence shipping 11 goals.
Taylor’s return will help to shore up the Toon back four, and the team should put in a stronger defensive showing with him on the field.
Without wishing further injury on a player who has served Newcastle well, the inclusion of Marveaux in the wake of Gutierrez’s injury has highlighted the Argentinean’s lacklustre form of late, and his return from a knee injury should not guarantee him a place in the team.
Although he works as hard as anyone on the field, covering as much ground as he does should bring about better results.
Gutierrez has lost pace, and the runs that he makes no longer threaten as they once did. Marveaux should be granted an extended run in the team and be given the chance to prove himself as Gutierrez’s successor.