Cheik Tiote has been a consistent fixture in the Newcastle United first XI since the first season back in the Premier League, and undoubtedly he's had some magnificent displays. The 4-4 draw against Arsenal and the 3-0 win against Manchester United were a pair of virtuoso displays by the usually lacklustre Tiote.
This may be an unashamedly biased piece, which will point on which, in my opinions are Tiote's major flaws I admit he has some saving graces. For the most I will not be talking about these saving graces but I will point them out before I delve deeper. He is consistent; if he's playing 'well' he'll continue that form over a number of games. He seems to thrive under pressure, which greatly differs from some of his teammates. But in a league where for the most part be playing sub-par teams, is the ability to play better under pressure a good thing? At first the answer is a resounding 'yes,' but if you go missing in a game against Hull City is it good enough?
Newcastle have a problem converting shots into goals. That's a fact. While we're lucky to have a goalscorer in Remy, we don't have much more. Yoan Gouffran will pop up with a goal now and then, as will Sissoko and Cabaye - all of whom play in the same midfield unit as one Cheik Tiote. As a midfielder he should chip in with at least two or three goals a season. You might scoff at the idea and retort 'that's not his job, he's a defensive minded player!'. A return of one goal in 88 league games is not good enough, especially when you take into account his tendency to shoot from outrageous distances.
Next up is his main asset, his tackling, which for the most part is pretty much what you expect from any Premier League centre midfielder. But his ability to give away free kicks with outstanding ease in often dangerous positions is out of this world. His persistence in picking up needless yellow cards is often applaudable. His ability to keep a gifted footballer in Vurnon Anita out of the side is remarkable. Because, let's face it, Vurnon Anita is a Tiote like player, but with the added ability to play football. Tiote's passing range is essentially five yards to Yohan Cabaye.
I may be slightly exuberant in my criticism of Tiote, but in my opinion it's valid. I don't really dislike him, but I do think he is vastly overrated and players like him are easy to come by. For example, Tom Huddlestone, a player who I often see receiving critique for nothing! He and Tiote are the same player but Tiote gives off a 'hard man' vibe so is often held in high regard for this reason. But if Tiote was more quiet in going about his business would he receive the same praise? I'm not too sure.
Have a differing opinion on Tiote? Leave it in the comments below or reply via Twitter, @callumkane__ and I'll get back to you at the quickest time possible.