I wake up at night sweating at the thought of life without Hatem Ben Arfa, I haven’t enjoyed watching one player so much since Peter Beardsley.

Something always happens on deadline day and similarly I can’t believe the likes of Man U will have ignored Cisse’s incredible scoring rate last year. Van Persie still needs to move and what happens as the knock on of that? Man U clearly have a place for him, if he goes elsewhere they’ll be looking to fill that. Wherever he goes Arsenal will have a striker shortage and a boatload of cash. I’ll be very happy if we get to the Villa game with all intact, then it’s squeaky bum time again in January.

On the ‘expectations’ front I would expect a top 6 challenge and hope for the cups to at least be taken seriously and treated with respect, to give us our best possible chance. European qualification of any form would represent success given the relative limitations of Newcastle compared to the sides around us. The threat of failure I can see is a blanket dismissal of all the cups to focus on the league, then the league campaign to go wrong. Unfortunately, anything below 7th is a big step back. This season I see Cisse, Krul and Ben Arfa as vital to our hopes.

Champions League place over a trophy?

No chance. This is maybe a reality if you’ve spent a few years collecting domestic silverware but can’t break into the top four. I can see a circumstance there where CL qualification would be a natural step forward but for us as fans, the one-off elation of a trophy win, coupled with the two fingers it would give to the legions of opposition fans who delight in our silverware-free status is the dream. Anyone who claims they would prefer the Champions League and the associated cash injection is the worst kind of boring, book balancing accountant prick you don’t want to meet and I feel warmed by the protection my complete lack of respect for their soul-less existence gives me.

Transfer Rumours/Action

I think we’re still operating a sensible strategy and the young players coming in could prove to be worth so much more than any Michael Owen style signing. No one can take the mick out of NUFC because we’ll simply walk away and leave the ball in the player’s court. Having said, the squad is still looking thin and we need a striking reinforcement and hopefully Debuchy at least before the window closes. I expect some signings though….

Starting Eleven/Formation

Krul, Debuchy?/Simpson, Coloccini, S.Taylor, Santon; Tiote, Cabaye, Jonas; Ben Arfa, Ba, Cisse, 4-3-3. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. This line-up worked wonders at the end of last season and would only be strengthened by Steven Taylor and potentially, Debuchy’s inclusion.

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