Eleven Days of Newcastle #9: Left Midfield

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Newcastle player Jonas Gutierrez is challenged by Barry Ferguson of Birmingham during the Barclays Premier League game between Newcastle United and Birmingham City at St James' Park on May 7, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A couple of days ago, Other Side of the Pillow wrote an excellent piece running down the backup options for Yohan Cabaye at CAM. Newcastle have a wealth of young, attack-minded midfielders, and supporters will certainly be interested to see if one of the options listed in our poll (Romain Amalfitano, Mehdi Abeid, and Haris Vuckic) are able to step up and force their way into playing time in Alan Pardew's formation. If Cabaye were to unable to play, however, a more likely option may be Jonas Gutierrez.

Gutierrez, who seems married to the left midfield for Newcastle by now, was one of many players that played outside of their natural positions last season, and the time he spent in a more central role was productive indeed. Jonas has always been a versatile player, often switching attack points mid-match when the tactic has dictated it, but last year he demonstrated that skill by starting all over the midfield.

Jonas Gutierrez is perpetually underrated by the Toon Army because he doesn't produce much on the back end, but he covers over his deficiencies with bucketloads of creativity and fancy footwork. He's a true box-to-box midfielder, often assisting the fullback on his side with his defensive responsibilities. Whenever Newcastle are having trouble moving the ball through the midfield, Jonas becomes the outlet. The majority of their attack flows through the left side, and he is the reason.

Should Jonas' services ever be needed in the center of midfield, replacement options abound. Sylvain Marveaux, if healthy, appears ready to make the next step in his career. He's got a bit of Jonas Gutierrez in him - always trying to dribble around the defense, and often succeeding - but he's a better crosser. The trade-off here is that he doesn't have the nose for tackling that Jonas does. If he plays significant time, his success will be inextricably tied to the form of Davide Santon.

If Marveaux isn't healthy enough to back up the position, Sammy Ameobi steps into the void. Ameobi possesses the type of talent that he may eventually force Alan Pardew to find a spot in the formation for him. For now, he's a perfect 20 minute guy, able to break down defenses through sheer force of will. Again, the end product is better, but there are holes in his game that make him a less than perfect option.

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