This season has started at a stuttering pace for NUFC and we currently sit 10th in the Premiership with 8 points from our opening 6 games. One of the main discussion points for fans is: are we best suited to a rigid 442 formation or should we continue with the fluid 433 which served us so well in the second half of last season?
The on / off transfer drama surrounding Demba Ba filled many newspaper columns and fan message boards. Thankfully we were able to hang onto our top goal scorer. Ba has started this season just like last year and currently leads the premier league goal scoring charts. However, my concern is that we have adapted our formation and the way we approach each game to fit to Demba Ba's style.
Much was made this summer of Ba's wants / demands to play a more central striking role rather than playing to the left of a front three alongside Pappis Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa. I have no doubts that Ba benefits massively from playing in a front 2 in partnership with Cisse - but this is a team game and we cannot sacrifice the greater good of the team to meet the needs of one player. Pappis Cisse is yet to get on the score sheet in the Premier league this season and he really looks like half the player he was last year when the goals seemed to come so easily. Hatem Ben Arfa is easily the most talented player in the NUFC squad who certainly enjoys the freedom allowed to him in a forward 3. As part of a 442 a higher level of defensive work is needed from Hatem - that certainly is not his forte. For me the more time Ben Arfa spends with the ball at his feet running at defenders and threading balls through for Ba and Cisse the better.
I do not want to underestimate the importance of Demba Ba and can easily see what he brings to the team. Overall I actually think he is a better, more complete player than Pappis Cisse, however Cisse is the superior goal scorer.
Alan Pardew has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks especially as we have massive games against Man Utd and Sunderland coming up. Ba, Cisse and Ben Arfa all deserved to be in our starting 11 week in, week out - Pardew is paid big money to make the decision as to how and where they fit into our team.
Howay the Lads