Alan Pardew has quite a decision facing him as we move toward the August 13 season opener with Arsenal - to be exact, he has several decisions. By my count, there are 20 or so players that have a legitimate claim to a spot in the Starting XI as the roster is currently constructed, which means there's plenty of sorting out to be done and only two preseason friendlies and just as many weeks left to do it in.
With a three-headed goalie controversy, a veritable wealth of midfielders, and a weakened striker corps, the only place on the pitch that isn't a complete crapshoot is the back line, but questions exist even there. We're going to start a short series soon where we try to nail down a starting lineup, formation and all, but we'd like your input first. Given the keys to the kingdom, who would you start and why? For the purposes of this exercise, assume that Cheik Tiote isn't having any visa problems (The Chronicle) and pretend that Hatem Ben Arfa is healthy (because we're all knocking on wood that he really is just out for a couple of weeks).
As we're crafting our own Starting XI's, we'll be keeping yours in mind. Some questions to consider:
- Who do you start in goal?
- Which midfielders do you select? Do you give deference to the old guys or are you going to go out of your way to include the new ones?
- Do you change your formation from the traditional 4-4-2 because of the personnel available?
- Is Demba Ba your guy up top? If so, who are you pairing with him (assuming you have two strikers)?
This can be a fun debate if everybody gets into it, so be creative! If you need help, utilize the "Roster" tab near the top of the page.