One Frenchman who faces difficult task breaking into Alan Pardew’s starting 11

Words by Kevin Doocey on .

Gabriel Obertan in action for Newcastle United at Blackburn

#### Obertan - Faces stern competition in fight for first team place at St.James’ Park

With Hatem Ben Arfa, Demba Ba and Papiss Cissé leading Newcastle United’s attack in recent weeks it must make Gabriel Obertan’s comeback from injury that bit harder. The winger signed from Manchester United for £3m played quite regularly at the start of the season, as Hatem gradually got back to full fitness. However, a few niggles and annoying injuries have kept Gabby out for a month or so, the sad thing being no one has really missed him. He is quite frustrating to watch at times, but Alan Pardew and John Carver have faith in his ability, and that is enough for me to indicate that he can be molded into a a very good winger.

Competition has never been harder for places in the NUFC starting 11 this season with an array of players on the bench ready to take the place of anyone under-performing. The likes of Danny Guthrie, Dan Gosling, Shola Ameobi, Mehdi Abeid, James Tavernier and Ryan Taylor all line the bench at the minute - finally we seem to have a little bit of depth to the squad.

You’d have to feel sorry for Obertan just a bit because, at the moment there’s no chance Ben Arfa is being moved from the teamsheet. Since he has started games, Benny has been a man on a mission and arguably, has been the best winger in the league since the start of the year. Certainly the most skillful one anyway.

Whether Obertan can adapt to the left-wing naturally or not I’m not sure, but he may have more luck getting playing time on his return in that very position. Seemingly our new formation of the back four and two holding midfielders has brought new life to Jonas Gutierrez, he has been playing out of his skin all season. A much improved player is our Spiderman.

Of course Demba takes the left-wing role when Guti slots in beside Tioté in front of the defence, so it really is hard to find a position for Gabriel from the first whistle. Inevitably, he could be a very good impact sub for the last half hour, just like wor Shola is.

If subs appearances gets the best out of some of our fringe players then it’s a no brainer - impact subs they’ll be.

Gabby doesn’t have the quality to start just yet, but in a couple of years time with the right coaching, he could be a very tasty winger as he has the height to cause problems and pace to burn; always a good combination.

What do you think? Where does the Frenchman fit in?

Comments welcome! 🙂

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toonarmyuk: ⏱ 23/04/2012

Don't forget Marveaux!  He is good enough for our squad when he's fully fit, but even he'll struggle to get anywhere near the starting 11 the way those lads playing at the moment.  Still, he will be extremely useful next year when we have multiple campaigns to play (Europe, PL, Cups)

RobbyBobson: ⏱ 23/04/2012

Hes only 23, but he can be so frustrating. I think Marveaux is a better player than him, probably not as quick, but much more tehcnically gifted.

Doocey: ⏱ 23/04/2012

Yeah Marveaux too. Honestly think Marveaux has serious potential that we're not aware of. Didn't get off to the nicest of starts, but I've a feeling he has a *big* part to play in Alan Pardew's plans. Classy player me thinks. Gonna be great competition for midfield next season!

Omar M.: ⏱ 23/04/2012

Gabby was a faithful servant during those 13 odd games he started regularly and will undoubtedly become a great impact sub but his indecision and wastefulness was just sooo frustrating. What the team needed it got when Hatem was deployed, with his confidence and will to challenge opposition head on the direct opposite of Gabby's faltering.  But I like Obertan, and if Pardew has made Guthrie a great midfielder and turned once despised Shola (nicknamed all sorts of things) into this impact sub who is actually cheered on, then he'll get something out of Gabby's talent. I remember the Man U away game where he really dominated Evra, and I see he has potential but short on confidence