Pardew’s Newcastle still have it all to prove going forward

Ten-man Newcastle came away from Villa Park with a well-earned point, but it may be seen as a missed opportunity by boss Alan Pardew who saw his side fail to hit the back of the net for the second consecutive game, and continue to struggle as an attacking force.

The hosts Aston Villa failed to hit a single shot on target, much like their opponents faired against Man City last weekend, and while the visitors managed four of their eleven shots on target, they evidently lacked the cutting edge required to seriously threaten stealing all three points.

The newly-installed number ten Siem De Jong returned from injury to make an appearance in the second half, and while fellow summer recruits Riviere and Perez have worked hard in the opening two games, Newcastle’s lack of potency remains their biggest concern.

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Loic Remy – the club’s on loan top scorer last season – is a striker with the strength, guile, pace and power to lead the line alone in a 4-2-3-1 formation. By contrast, Emanuelle Riviere has looked isolated against both Man City and Villa, despite his best attempts. Ayoze Perez hasn’t the physicality to play as a lone striker, however the effect of Siem De Jong playing in behind him showed signs of chemistry.

Many continue to believe Newcastle must recruit a top class striker to replace Remy, but efforts to bring in fellow Frenchman Alexandre Lacazette have proven unsuccessful so far.

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But it can’t just be about new personnel. Pardew also needs to improve tactically, and show more flexibility when things are not working out for his side going forward. If the strikers he has aren’t effective in his more preferred 4-2-3-1, then he needs to consider a 4-3-3 (which Villa adopted against them) or a 4-4-2 (which Man City adopted against them). Ayoze’s pace could be the perfect foil for the hold-up play of Riviere or Ferreyra, or even De Jong or Sissoko driving forward from deeper positions, while the young Spaniard could leave defenders in his wake should the tricky Remy Cabella be able to slip a through ball past a defence.

The lack of goals may be teething problems, and, as Pardew said, new attacking players trying to do too much to impress their new manager. Siem De Jong looks like he could show a lot of influence in the final third, and becoming an effective conduit between midfield and attack. But whether it is through a top class new signing before the transfer window shuts, or from Pardew himself demonstrating he is capable of mixing it up tactically to get the best from what he has, Newcastle need to find new ways of hurting the opposition – doing so could well make the difference between finishing in either the top or the bottom half of the league.

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