Cheik Tiote is back in England following some trouble with the renewal of his visa, and according to Alan Pardew he will feature in Newcastle's opener against Arsenal on Saturday. Tiote was forced to miss the Magpies' final preseason match against Fiorentina - cut short by rain anyway - as he trained at the Ivorian Embassy in Accra, Ghana, and there were fears that he might have to miss the first part of the season. Losing a key member of the Starting XI would have been a blow anyway, but doubly so in this case as Tiote is expected to miss several fixtures in January and February to contest the Africa Cup of Nations as a member of the Cote d'Ivoire National Team.
Pardew's preferred formation and Starting XI are something of a mystery going into the opening week, but there has been wide speculation that Tiote and new arrival Yohan Cabaye will work side by side in the defensive half of the midfield. Between this most recent development and Cabaye's own visa snafu, which prevented him from joining Newcastle on a three-city tour of the United States, the two have not had much time at all working together. In fact, the eleven players that take the pitch at St James' Park on Saturday will likely be doing so as a unit for the very first time outside of training, which makes this upcoming fixture even more of an uphill battle. Perhaps Mr. Tiote can pull some more magic out of his boot?