Demba Ba has been one of the best signings in the Premier League this year and Newcastle need someone to step up to the plate and fill his boots while he is away on international duty.
The options they have are Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi, Hatem Ben Arfa and Leon Best. Sammy Ameobi would have had a chance to try and cement his place in the starting line up but he picked up an unfortunate injury which could keep him out for months in a reserve game against Wigan.
Since coming back from injury himself Ben Arfa has been blowing hot and cold for Newcastle producing wonderful moments that any player in the world would be proud of with his goal against Blackburn where it seemed like the ball was stuck to his foot. But, in other games it has seemed like he hasn’t got back to his best and has looked off the pace. A lot of the Toon Army want to see him playing on the right wing but manager Alan Pardew seems reluctant to do this, seeing him as more of a number 10 type player that drops off the main striker and dictates play from there, in the way that Dennis Bergkamp did so effectively for Arsenal.
Shola Ameobi can be one of the most frustrating footballers in the world (especially to Sunderland fans as he seems to perform to the best of his abilities in the Tyne-Wear Derby) because at times he looks like he is a good player, for example when he rescued a point for Newcastle earlier in the season with an unstoppable left foot strike against Tottenham. He can cause problems to defences, using his height and power to his advantage but then there is the other side to his game. He frustratingly gets caught offside countless times in a game and trips over his own feet. When he is good, he is very effective, but when he is bad, he looks more like a Sunday League footballer.
Leon Best is another player that can be frustrating, he had to wait almost a year to score his first goal for Newcastle but he did have limited chances when Andy Carroll was at the club. He contributed magnificently when Carroll left for Liverpool in keeping Newcastle in the Premier League by finishing the season with an incredible six goals in 11 league games. Then he started this season where he left off and was a potential candidate for the coveted number 9 shirt. After his double against Fulham and his equaliser against Aston Villa he has struggled slightly but in his defence he has picked up a few niggles recently and has been on the bench. Many people would argue Ba produced his best alongside the Irish international as he challenged aerially and didn’t mind putting in a shift for his team.
Peter Lovenkrands has been frozen out of the Newcastle squad this season and will be desperate to prove a point to his manager but I can’t see this happening as he has lost a yard of pace and that was his main asset. He will be loved by the Newcastle fans because of his performances in the Championship and also playing and scoring in a game against West Brom despite having just returned from Denmark after his father died. He will be remembered very well by the Newcastle fans but I can’t see him making much of an impact unfortunately
I believe Newcastle play at their best when they have two out and out strikers on the pitch and therefore should play Best and Ameobi however I do believe the team needs slightly more creativity and that is why Ben Arfa also needs to be in the team, although I think he should play on the right wing as Gabriel Obertan has looked very poor so far.
Alan Pardew will be hoping to get through this period
picking up as many points as possible and then hoping to end the season with a flurry of points upon the return of Demba Ba as they look to secure European football at St James’ Park next season