(Article submitted by Stani)
With the season all set to kick off, it will be interesting to see the first choice midfield Sam Allardyce chooses to go with. Personally, I think he'll have a bit of a headache which he'll try to relieve by cramming the midfield with 5 rather than the braver choice of 4. This will mean little game time for Maiga and any other striker we get in as Carroll will obviously be Allardyce's main man when fit..
The returning Ravel Morrison has been our standout player in pre-season, and there is also the summer addition of youngster Danny Whitehead and the likely acquisition of Stewart Downing, so Allardyce does have more options to consider in midfield than the end of last season.
If we sign Stewart Downing then I'm prepared to give him a chance, but I'm not sure I like the way we're heading in terms of the style of football we hope to play. Also, too much is being designed around Carroll, which could cause us a lot of problems should his injury problems continue.
Matt Jarvis has a lot to prove this season, and I would be prepared to give him the opportunity on our left to do so this campaign. My gut feeling is he'll never be the player Allardyce thought he was. We spent a huge sum of money on him and so far he's not given any reasons for Allardyce to be able to justify the price the club paid for him.
It will be interesting to see how the manager accommodates both Jarvis and Downing in the side, or if he is able to at all. We have a number of midfielders to choose from and most of them would harbour hopes of being first choice starters.
Regulars to the site will know I'm not the biggest fan of the limited Mark Noble, and with the squad improving this season, I expect him to play a bit part role if Allardyce is honest with himself and brave enough to drop him. It would mean finding someone else to play that role of sitting deep and shielding the back four, and Mohamed Diame would be my man. He would have to temper the attacking side to his game, but with the likes of Nolan, Joe Cole and ravel Morrisson in my team, that side of things will be taken care of. That is not to say Diame will not get forward; of all our midfielders, he is most capable of doing so from such a deep lying position.
My first team:
Jarvis /Downing Morrison Cole
Rat Reid Collins Demel
This would be an exciting side to go with, but the season just gone has shown us that Allardyce tended to err on the safe side both in terms of team personnel and tactics, even when there was a case for the team to be more expressive.
So, with a fully fit squad to choose from, who would your starting midfield be?
Mohamed Diame, Alou Diarra, Jack Collison, Matthew Jarvis, Ravel Morrison, Mark Noble, Kevin Nolan, Matthew Taylor, Ricardo Vaz Te, Danny Whitehead, Joe Cole, Stewart Downing