Newcastle United vs. Manchester City: Key Selection Decisions for Alan Pardew
The Premier League is back this weekend, and after a summer of frantic activity off the pitch, Alan Pardew’s Newcastle United must now prove their worth on it.
A host of new signings, including Siem de Jong, Remy Cabella and Emmanuel Riviere, have arrived at St. James’ Park since last term’s disappointing finish. Much is expected of them.
However, their task couldn’t be tougher on the opening day, with reigning champions Manchester City providing the opposition after having spent £50 million in the transfer market themselves.
In the eyes of many Magpies fans, Pardew remains on trial after a disastrous run last season, and the 53-year-old knows better than anyone that the time to deliver is now.
As the curtain finally rises on the 2014-15 campaign, Bleacher Report looks at some of the key decisions the Toon boss must make against Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
Has Steven Taylor Earned a Shot at Redemption?
Newcastle centre-back Steven Taylor has a score to settle with Manchester City—but he may not get the chance to right the wrongs of last season this weekend.
In a game that finished 4-0 to the champions last August, the defender typified United’s nightmare start, picking up a straight red card following an ill-judged clash with Sergio Aguero.
While it may have been a dream introduction for Manuel Pellegrini, the price for Taylor’s rashness was his place in Alan Pardew’s starting XI.
Mike Williamson was the early beneficiary, and all signs point to a similar script once the new campaign gets underway.
Taylor is itching to put things right for his beloved black and whites and win back a regular spot in the back four, but whether or not he’ll get the opportunity remains to be seen.
Who Will Get the Nod in Central Midfield?
If Alan Pardew starts with two holding midfielders against Manchester City, as is expected, pre-season suggests one of them will be new signing Jack Colback.
A free transfer from neighbours Sunderland, Colback has enjoyed a fruitful summer since making the switch to St. James’ Park, with only Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa playing more minutes than the Geordie.
The identity of Colback’s engine room partner is a different matter. The fitness of Cheick Tiote—or lack of it—could play a pivotal role in Alan Pardew’s decision.
The Ivory Coast international—who was linked with an £8 million move to Arsenal this week, as reported by the Daily Mirror’s Sam Adams—has managed just 60 minutes of action over the course of eight friendlies.
If the calf injury which has restricted his involvement fails to clear up, the manager may well turn to Vurnon Anita or at a push Frenchman Moussa Sissoko.
Who Will Be Newcastle’s Wide Boys?
For the most part, French duo Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran could be found patrolling the flanks for Newcastle United last season.
Will the cast change this time around?
Gouffran, who was used on the left-hand side, seems to hold sway with Alan Pardew. His determined style and work ethic should see him hold down a place in the starting XI.
However, the arrival of Remy Cabella hands the Toon boss a dilemma. Assuming the new signing will be accommodated in some shape or form, a reshuffle looks inevitable.
The demise of Hatem Ben Arfa, who looks to have played his last game for the Magpies, leaves a place on the right up for grabs. However, Sissoko may be better employed elsewhere.
Throw into the mix the promising pre-season form of youngster Rolando Aarons and forgotten man Gabriel Obertan, and Pardew has his work cut out when it comes to naming his wide boys.