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Newcastle United Friday Links: In Which I Rhyme and Alliterate

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It's Friday, and after a week of riding herd on my insurance company and the body shop, my car is totalled at almost a value to pay off the note... so I guess there's that to be happy about. It does mean that I'm shopping for a used car this weekend. Just thought I'd share.

This Saturday promises to be emotionally charged at St. James' Park with the rescheduled tribute to Gary Speed set to go off. I've read that up to 17 members of Gary's family are going to be there. Honestly, a lot of eyes are going to be on this tribute as the reschedule has isolated us from the rest of the tributes... I hope that we do it up right.

So the news! We'll check in on Cheik, freshen our view on Fraser,
make ready for Mehdi and do other things that I'm not clever enough to alliterate or rhyme. Take the jump and see what there is to see. Does one (or more) of the stories resonate with you in a positive or negative manner? Don't forget, we're always open for discussion!

Power Rankings!

English Premier League Power Rankings - Week 16: Chelsea Climb To No. 3 -

From the mothership- I'm really glad this is out there. I think on a platform that prides itself on fan accessability, a fan-based power ranking is tremendous.

The Demba Ba Experience

BBC Sport - Newcastle United can replicate Hoffenheim feats - Ba

"We have a young manager who knows how to manage and the team is similar, good footballers, good with the ball."

Demba Ba's take on the Newcastle squad and performance thus far compared to his experience at Hoffenheim.

Striker Demba Ba fired up for festive games - NUFC Latest News - Newcastle United - ChronicleLive

Ba is level on goals with Wayne Rooney and Sergio Aguero, with the trio just four behind Robin van Persie at the top. However, Ba’s goals have come from 33 attempts at goal, compared to Rooney’s 60 and Aguero’s 45. Ba’s shooting accuracy is 66% on target, exactly the same as Rooney’s and superior to Agueros’ 47% and top scorer van Persie’s 61%.

This stat has been kicking around for several weeks, and it just occured to me... Demba is like The Most Interesting Man In The World: He may not always be involved, but when he is, he is scoring goals.

The Cheik Tiote Non-News News Show

Pardew: Cheick Tiote is 'likely' to be involved - NUFC Latest News - Newcastle United - ChronicleLive

"If you are looking at Colo, he is 50-50 and if you are looking at Cheick he is 70-30 against. "There is still a long way to go to see those two on the team sheet." Mehdi Abeid, Alan Smith and Haris Vuckic are the three contenders to start in midfield against Swansea with Dan Gosling suspended and Yohan Cabaye in need of yet another partner.

I will believe it when I see it. Each passing match that Cheik does not play, I become more convinced that Ca$hley is protecting potential profit.

Newcastle’s Tiote may miss Afcon - SuperSport - Football

Cheick Tiote’s prolonged injury layoff is fuelling fears back home with the approach of the African Cup of Nations due to kick off on January 21 next year

... and then a story like this comes out to make me look like a doomsayer. I don't guess the Cote d'Ivoire manager would be putting quotes out there if there wasn't a real injury concern. If you're a conspiracy theorist, though...

The 'keeper Chronicles

Celtic’s Lennon labels Newcastle loanee Forster as the next Boruc | Scottish Football News |

I suppose it's a good position to be in. I know many have always rated Fraser, but the fact remains that he had the chance to seize the gloves in pre-season and he couldn't manage. It's easy to discount his successful loan spells due to the fact that the SPL is struggling with quality these days, but he is excelling (by and large) in Europe as well, which is a little harder to ignore.

Michel Vorm and Tim Krul go head-to-head in battle of star stoppers | Louise Taylor | Football |

As an American, I've kind of been spoiled by goalkeeping quality - we're finally in a little dip (if you can call it that...), but think back to the end of Tony Meola's tenure with young Brad Friedel and Kasey Keller nipping at his heels... that's kind of what Bert van Marwijk has going on right now with Maarten Stecklenberg, Michel Vorm and Tim Krul. It's a great position to be in.

Who Shall Feature This Weekend?

Trio in frame to take Toon’s centre stage - Black & White - Shields Gazette

Pardew felt his midfield was “loose” and let Norwich City enjoy too much possession in dangerous areas in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat at Carrow Road.

Really, Alan? Do you think? We got out-possessed by a team that had been out-possessed by 71% of their opponents on the season. So anyway, pick your poison: Smith, Abeid or Vuckic?

‘I won’t let Toon down’ says Mehdi Abeid - Black & White - Shields Gazette

I'm excited for the prospect of Mehdi Abeid... I don't know how well he tracks back, but he is magic coming forward (or at least seems to be from the video of Reserve matches that is out there). I think that maybe my preference for Abeid is slanted by the pure amount of press that he gets relative to Harris Vuckic, but I think I'd be thrilled with either at this point.

The Lid Is Off On Newcastle's Super-Secret Strategy Of Transfers!

Newcastle United's January strategy revealed - NUFC News - NUFC - JournalLive

Pardew says he doesn’t expect Tioté to leave and talk of his departure being a fait accompli – as it was last weekend – is just plain wrong. Certainly the Ivorian is being watched by the top clubs but The Journal’s information is that he doesn’t want to leave. He feels a personal debt of loyalty to Newcastle for taking a chance on him and he is settled in the North East.

[emphasis mine - OSotP]

This is all as well as may be... but I don't know that ultimately Cheik will have any say in the matter, or if his decision would match this apparent pledge. Can we fast-forward to January so it will all sort out and we can move on and deal with the players that are certain to be here in February?

Mike Ashley gives green light on new defender - NUFC Latest News - Newcastle United - ChronicleLive

Recent injuries have highlighted the need for cover and Fabricio Coloccini is touch and go for the game with Swansea tomorrow, with Mike Williamson also a doubt. With Steven Taylor’s absence until the end of the campaign now severely affecting Pardew’s team’s chances, the Londoner told the Chronicle: “Mike asked me when am I going to get a centre-half.

Ha Ha Ha, Mike. That's a good one. I expect that Alan is going to get a centre-half when you say you will pay for it. I'm sure relative to me, Alan has quite a lot of money, but I doubt it's enough to buy a quality centre-half. Let's just get this sorted, eh? And while we're at it, we could use a second centre-half as well.

Newcastle Get A Second Chance

Carver: It'll be a fitting tribute to Gary Speed - NUFC Latest News - Newcastle United - ChronicleLive

Thus far, Newcastle is 0-1 in Gary Speed Tribute Matches. Here's hoping for a good performance on Saturday, perhaps with a brilliant goal from the midfield just as a little icing on the tribute.

Enjoy your Friday, and Howay the Lads!