USA vs. France Coverage: On Yohan Cabaye

Newcastle resident Ronan Quinn on one of the eleven that may start versus the States

Cabaye's made a splash already this year by the Tyneside...

TSG’s USA vs. France Preview

With the likes of Andy Carroll, Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and José Enrique all sold since January, many worried about Newcastle’s prospects of survival in the Premier League. As it happens, Newcastle United are sitting third above the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.  And as the USMNT approach their game against France this week, my focus is on one of the central figures of Alan Pardew’s French revolution, Yohan Cabaye.

Replacing any of the aforementioned players was going to be a tough job for anyone, as they were all stars of a successful season for the North-East club last year. Particularly tricky, was the task facing Cabaye who was indirectly replacing captain Kevin Nolan, scorer of a a fantastic 12 goals from midfield and a superb partner for the industrious bulldozer, Cheik Tiote.

Cabaye moved from French champions Lille in the summer for a fee of around 4 million pounds, after his most successful season in his homeland, certianly in terms of winning trophies with his club. However, it was the previous season which captured the eye of scouts worldwide when he grabbed 15 goals and 11 assists from a slighter higher position on the field than Newcastle fans will be used to seeing him.

Indeed with Newcastle, Cabaye has been mainly deployed as a deep lying playmaker beside the bustling Tiote, in a position where he can distribute the ball to the wings and the strikers with pinpoint accuracy. His passing his perhaps his most famous weapon, a result Cabaye states reflects his love as a youngster for the style of David Beckham.  Cabaye’s game however, is not limited to starting attacks and indeed defensive responsibility is shared almost equally with Tiote, as Cabaye does not lack for bite in the tackle. Add to this his recent forays forward into the box which culminated in a beautiful late winning goal against Wigan and Newcastle’s fans are starting to see a very well rounded midfield player.

One might argue his first goal was a long time in coming for the Magpies, as many shots from range throughout the previous games in the season had been rattling the crossbar, or forcing the opposition keeper into spectacular saves from long distance. The floodgates appear to have opened now though, with an equally excellent goal from 30 yards coming against Blackburn Rovers.

Cabaye may getting a starting call versus the States on Friday.

Another  strength of the Frenchman, is his ability on set pieces, as seen with the goal against Blackburn which came from a free-kick. This is something which Newcastle fans again may not have seen much of, as Ryan Taylor is something of a specialist as well. However, the Toon Army have seen corner kicks delivered with enough precision  that he has recorded three assists from them so far this season.

The new Newcastle star has started to see more action for France in recent months, starting in central midfield for the last three, massively important European 2012 qualifiers. This reflects a change in France’s style since the appointment if Laurent Blanc in 2010 following a dismal World Cup. Since that time, France have leaned away from the more physical, experienced players who had served the country so well and moved to a younger, more technical team building around the likes of Samir Nasri, a system which appears to suit Cabaye’s style perfectly.

For those of you familiar with line “he couldn’t do it on a wet, windy weeknight at Stoke”, mostly used to deride an extremely talented foreign player outside the Premier League (often unbelievably, Messi) you will be happy to know that Cabaye put in a completely competent performance in Newcastle’s 3-1 at the Britannia Stadium last Monday, which I guess proves to a certain extent the steel behind his play.

All in all, should Yohan Cabaye start against the USMNT on Friday fans can look forward to seeing an elegant player who likes getting on the ball as much as possible, and distributing usefully with possession. He can be effective on both sides of the ball with a tough tackle, as well as carrying a real goal threat.

14 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jared on 2011/11/10 at 5:29 AM

    I’ve seen him play a few times for Newcastle and I’ve been impressed. As it stands with him and Tiote in central midfield, Newcastle have a central midfield that matches up with any of the teams in the Premier League. It’s certainly better than Man Utd’s central midfield right now which is probably why I’ve started to see rumors of Cabaye going to Man Utd.


  2. Posted by SamT on 2011/11/10 at 5:41 AM

    This right here is why I love TSG.


  3. Posted by Rich on 2011/11/10 at 9:36 AM

    My comment doesn’t seem to be showing up, so I’m trying again without the hyperlink.

    Great article on Cabaye, who has been the Toon’s best player this season (forward of the back line, anyway) and has produced some eye-watering football. Unfortunately, it looks like he will miss the friendlies this week due to injury.

    See the Newcastle Chronicle site for the article from a few days ago. You’ll have to wade through a bunch of recent articles on the tragic renaming of St. James’s Park.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/11/10 at 9:38 AM

      Yeah we saw that he’s in doubt. I think Sochaux’ Marvin Martin steps in for him. It’s a shame.

      Shame also because Ronan and I scheduled this like 10 days ago.

      Maybe next year?

      Thanks for the note.


  4. Hey thanks for the responses guys. I did fear he might not play when he was subbed against Everton I must admit. But you’re right Rich, hard to find news amongst all of the SJP controversy…


  5. Posted by kaya on 2011/11/10 at 2:03 PM

    Seems pretty clear Cabaye is out (along with Remy and Malouda)
    If our Germans show up, maybe Blanc won’t be quite so relaxed.


  6. I mostly know Cabaye from his appearances for France, and I saw him a few times for Lille and a couple times with Newacastle.

    His first touch for France has been very good. It has actually made a difference for us (I’m a huge France supporter – but a dual citizen, so I follow the US a bit as well). Cabaye has a spot that has previously been occupied, under Blanc, by Alou Diarra, Abou Diaby, and Yohan Gourcuff. In terms of his first touch, and ability to relieve the pressure with ball control, he’s the best of those four.

    One of the players to watch for France is Yann M’Vila. He’s a great young player who has been a joy to watch since Blanc took over. He’s a defensive midfielder, and he’s so good at tackling and breaking up play.


  7. Posted by Colin on 2011/11/14 at 8:26 AM

    One thing not mentioned about Cabaye is his undeniable ability to swoon people of all age, gender, race, and religion. Quite the looker.


  8. […] more creative impulse and heartbeat than last year’s version, despite departures. Summer addition Yohan Cabaye has brought creative passing to the side, and he’s found a suitable partner in Jonas Gutierrez, […]


  9. […] Yohan Cabaye edges out fellow Tynesider Cheik Tiote here–more because of Tiote’s injury. Bet you didn’t know that Cabaye was the second leading tackler in the Premiership. This for a player who can be downright wizardly in possession. Cabaye can play on my team any day. What a find. […]


  10. […] Is there a more underrated player in this tournament than Yohan Cabaye?  The Newcastle midfielder has been a revelation on Tyneside this year after his arrival from […]


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