A largely disappointing derby has been made palatable by the fact that we saved 1 point when a deflating 0 point haul was on the cards. Two hot-button topics came out of this result, one much more a darling of discussion than the other:
For my part of the reaction, I (predictably) come down on the same side that I have done- he was inserted in the second half of a match in which we were struggling for offensive ideas against a defense that was hell-bent on closing the passing lanes as Newcastle approached their box. It was again a ready-made situation for Hatem's propensity for the bit of individual brilliance to shine through as taking the makem D on directly was always going to be the more likely way to beat them, especially leading 1-0. For me, this is a bit of a false positive of sorts. Kudos to Alan Pardew for putting him into situations in which he will succeed, but it also bears remembering that Ben Arfa looked extraordinarily ordinary in the starts he was given as a withdrawn striker earlier in the season. Facilitating Hatem in the starting lineup is going to require a concession in the formation that AP employs. After the jump, a crude suggestion with some explanations.
The front line and back 1 is extremely easy to figure- Papiss Cisse, Demba Ba and Tim Krul are musts. I found a lineup app that would allow some flexibility, but did not have available arrows to indicate player movements, so I'll explain what I'm thinking here:
- This is essentially a three at the back formation with a small caveat- Ryan Taylor's responsibility includes a large amount of tracking back. He would essentially function as a third-and-a-half defender.
- Danny Simpson and Davide Santon would tuck a little more inside than the graphic will allow to show but all three would be favored a touch to the left.
- Cheik Tiote would lineup as a traditional d-mid
- Ryan Taylor would be responsible for the middle of the park right side (where the giant hole is in the graphic)
- Cabaye would play mostly as he does currently, although perhaps a touch more withdrawn as HBA will fill that space primarily.
- Hatem Ben Arfa lines up as an attacking midfielder but skewed to the right- he would take primary responsibility from Ryan Taylor for the attacking third right wing. He would also be allowed room to roam a la Jonas when he was not tied to the left for our brief 4-5-1 experiment.
There are notable drawbacks to this, however, not least of which being the fact that running a 3-at-the-back is extremely risky as teams find it easy to get around us with 4 at the back. If Ryan Taylor plays disciplined and resists going forward into the attacking third, this risk is minimized although still a concern.
What say you? If we needed to press, it could easily turn into a 3-4-3 which would be useful and by substitution it could be a 4-5-1...