Weblog: The football punter
Beware over-reliance on one-man goal machines
Newcastle versus Bordeaux looks the most intriguing of the Europa League games involving a British side tonight although Alan Pardew's team selection will be absolutely crucial for punters. Only two players have scored for the Toon Army in the Premier League this season, with Demba Ba notching six of their eight goals and Hatem Ben Arfa, the Maradona of Marseille, grabbing the other two.
I'm always in two minds about teams who are reliant on one player for the vast majority of their goals. On the one hand it's obviously great to have a proven goalscorer but what if they get injured or sold or suddenly start feeling sorry for goalkeepers? Look at Robin van Persie, who used to score all the goals for a team prone to ridiculous defensive lapses and now, er, scores all the goals for a team prone to ridiculous defensive lapses.
Newcastle, weirdly, have two players in the Van Persie mould. For the first half of last season they were over-reliant on Ba's goals, then Papiss Cisse arrived to hog the limelight after January. This season looks to be going the same way, with Demba exploding out of the starting blocks and hopefully turning rubbish again in time for Christmas and all those Ba Humbug headlines.
Strangely enough, none of Ba, Cisse or Ben Arfa played in Newcastle's first Europa League game against Maritimo and the result was... 0-0. Two Ameobis, Obertan, Vuckic, Amalfitano and Bigirimana (no, me neither) couldn't combine to produce a goal in Portugal so Pardew may be forced to play a stronger side against Bordeaux at home. Even so, I'm backing the Frenchmen - unbeaten in Ligue 1 this season - to silence the Toon Army tonight.