Alan Pardew Must Revert to 4-3-3 with Newcastle United

Daniel ReyFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2014

Pardew needs to get his tactics right to secure a first win in five matches
Pardew needs to get his tactics right to secure a first win in five matchesSang Tan

Alan Pardew's Newcastle United are on a dreadful run of form.

The Magpies have lost their last four matches without scoring, conceding 12. At home in the league in 2014, Sunderland have found the net more often than Pardew's men (three to two).

The 1-0 defeat to Stoke was a far cry from their peak on Boxing Day when they beat the same opposition 5-1 and were three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool. The difference in those two teams' form in the second half of the season has been staggering.

So what has gone wrong at Newcastle? The most obvious factor is the sale of influential midfielder Yohan Cabaye to Paris St-Germain in January.

Cabaye was the key to Newcastle's play. Whether he was spraying passes from in front of the back four, or threading a through ball in the final third, his creativity and goals were at the heart of Newcastle's promising first half of the season.

Pardew's failure to replace Cabaye led to the loss of team morale and direction on the field. Perhaps as important has also been the continued absence of forward Loic Remy, who served a three-match suspension followed by more than a month on the sidelines with injury.

With Remy hoping to return on Saturday against Swansea, it is time for Pardew to change his formation. For the last two seasons, he has favoured a 4-5-1 which can evolve into a 4-4-2 if the team has sustained periods of possession.

However, in the absence of Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko, Pardew should revert to the system that brought him so much success when Newcastle finished fifth two years ago: 4-3-3.

Without these two sources of creativity and assists, when he returns from injury a place in the team must be found for talented but enigmatic Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa.

In 2012, Ben Arfa excelled when playing on the right wing, providing crosses for Papiss Cisse and often finding the net himself. The 3-1 away victory against West Brom two years ago was the pinnacle of that system. After the match, Pardew eulogised his front three of Ben Arfa, Cisse and Demba Ba.

Although Ben Arfa will miss the visit of Swansea through injury, 4-3-3 could still be used to good effect if Sammy Ameobi is fit to play. This system would also allow Remy to operate in his favoured position, cutting in from the left.

Newcastle have nothing to lose in the final four games of the season, so should try and get the fans back on side by playing an adventurous style of football. Returning to an old formation cannot prove worse than the current tactics, and 4-3-3 would at least be a sign of attacking intent from Pardew.

After a frustrating season that promised a top-six challenge but fizzled away quickly after Christmas, Toon fans are desperately in need of something to shout about. As a result, Alan Pardew should attack with purpose against Swansea with a 4-3-3.