Tag: ben arfa

Cabaye Has Saved Newcastle’s Dreadful Season… At Least for Now

It is incredible where a calendar year can take you. Amazing how in a year’s time a team can go from competing for a Champion’s League spot to battling for the right to stay up! Newcastle, a dark horse of last year, showed promise and potential for a relapse to the team of old with the legendary shadow of Alan Shearer guiding a beleaguered team to a valiant 5th place finish.  After a less than promising 2010, Newcastle turned it around in the 2011-2012 season. The team found ways to win games and ended the year with 65 points, in fifth place, with a spot waiting for them in the Europa league. This was thought to be the turnaround; a chance for Newcastle to take back the Barclay’s Premier League.

But it was not to be. Prior to yesterday’s 2-1 win over a dreadful Aston Villa side, Newcastle was a point out of the relegation zone.  The Toon had lost five of its last six games and eight of its last ten. Its lone win was against bottom dwellers QPR. But, all is not lost. The first away win of the season is a season changer for United. Not only does it put them in 15th place in the premiership but it can be a catapult of sorts to keep them in the league for the coming season.  This combined with the incredible influx of French players into the team during the transfer window will be a major determinant in Newcastle’s success in the second half of the season. The Toon Army is appreciative of the signings and when you are fighting a relegation battle you need the fans on your side. Newcastle has that as you can see below.

French Love

Newcastle also has a midfield capable of silky attacking movement, clever passes and clinical finishing. This was apparent in yesterday’s game when Newcastle’s savior, Yohan Cabaye stunned the Villa crowd with a ludicrous, side-swerving volley that froze Brad Guzan and left Villa scrambling to pick their jaws off the floor. His return from injury has already proven dramatic and incredibly influential in Newcastle’s play. With the departure of goal machine Demba Ba, the midfield and defense will need to sure up the back and find other ways to get goals! Pappa Sisse is a good player but he is not the answer. The likes of Ben Arfa, Anita and Cabaye will need to be the breadwinners if Newcastle wants to survive to see another premier league campaign.

Tell me that face doesn't breathe confidence into your lungs.
Tell me that face doesn’t breathe confidence into your lungs.

Lastly, Fabricio Coloccini came out and said how sad he is about his transfer back home falling through. This could be the best thing for Newcastle. He is an excellent defender for them and sures up a shaky back four that have is leaking goals like stupid faucet you can never fix. The 31 year old insists that he will give 100% and a statement like that coming from a veteran like him makes smile with joy.

Organized, composed and ready to shutout everyone.
Organized, composed and ready to shutout everyone.

24 hours ago, Newcastle was a lost cause. Not anymore, not anymore. Newcastle will stay up this season. Newcastle will finish in the top ten. Alan Pardew knows what he is doing. Krul is one of the best young goalies in the world. The combination of players are ready to make a run. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. I won’t be surprised when Newcastle shakes things up.

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Group D Preview and Predictions

Group D is an interesting one to say the least. Ukraine, France, Sweden and England make up a somewhat strong group that is marred by injuries.

The Ukraine is behind on their Euro 2012 preparations. This does not exclude their own home squad. The Ukraine has not won a game since October of 2011. They lost to France and Sweden during their warm-up games for this tournament. That being said, a host country can never be counted out. (Just look at Greece) Still, the quality in the team is few and far between. If Andriy Shevchenko finds his form of old, maybe, just maybe Ukraine can sneak a draw in. I don’t expect to win a game during this tournament, even with the support of their home fans.

Sweden enters this tournament in good form, winning every game they have played in 2012. The competition might not have been overly competitive but wins against Croatia and Serbia cannot be discounted. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a boss. He is unstoppable when he wants to play. He attracts enough attention to give other forwards such as my personal favorite, Markus Rosenberg, a chance to make something happen. How reliable are the role players on the Sweden side in the clutch moments? I don’t think they are and Zlatan has been known to disappear in big games so I do not expect must noise from the Swedes. An all too injured England side could provide a way into the knockout rounds.

France is the odds on favorite in this group. They have had an excellent and undefeated 2012 highlighted by a win over Germany, in Germany. This was a tune up but still gives France confidence going into the tournament, something they really needed after the World Cup bust up that was as embarrassing as it was damaging for the country’s national side. France is the most well rounded team in this group and has the most depth. I expect them to get out easily and make a run to the finals. Benzema, Nasri, young gun Ben Arfa and an experienced back line are more than enough to make it happen.


England is in trouble. Injuries are unpredictable but that timing of England’s current woes could not have been worse. That combined with the John Terry, Rio Ferdinand and Roy Hodgson riff is enough controversy to cause major problems for this team. Rooney is out for the first two games so it will be up to young Danny Welbeck to provide the scoring. This situation is the perfect set up for an England team with no pressure or reservations to make an unexpected run for the title. Is it likely? No. But, England still has some talent and given that the group stage should be a breeze, England could hold solid and find ways to advance further into the tournament.

I expect France to win the group outright and England to sneak out in second. England needs to get a little bit lucky but if they can find a way to organize an inexperienced back line and find goals without Wayne Rooney running the show, they will grab two wins and move on. I expect little to no resistance from the Ukraine. Sweden is a potential dark horse here but I don’t see them making it out.

GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS! EXTRACT YOUR BRAIN!
-LM