Just how much is Cheick Tiote going to be missed by Newcastle?

Cheick Tiote has been the unsung hero of the season so far in a Newcastle United team that has seen some standout performers. With the Toon flying high in the table, the Ivorian midfielder’s graft and guile in the middle of the park has often been overshadowed by the spectacular displays of Demba Ba and Tim Krul.

Cheick Tiote arrived on these shores from FC Twente in a £3.5million deal at the start of last season, soon making a name for himself as a tough tackling defensive midfielder. It was his 25-yard volley in the 4-4 draw with Arsenal though that would really announce himself to the Premier League though. Since then, the Ivorian has gone from strength-to-strength and his combative style has been a major force in driving Newcastle up the table.

However, with Cheick Tiote off to the African Cup of Nations for up to the next six Premier League matches, just how much are Newcastle United going to miss him?

Cheick Tiote is playing better than last season

Cheick Tiote had a solid first season in the Premier League as he helped Newcastle to twelfth. After having a season to settle in, Tiote is performing even better this time out.

2010-11 Season

2011-12 Season

Mins on pitch

2308 mins

1251 mins

Mins per interception

35 mins

33 mins

Mins per shot blocked

257 mins

209 mins

Mins per ground tackle

28 mins

26 mins

Ground tackle success



Mins per duel

5.5 mins

5.4 mins

Duel success



Passes made in own half



Mins per Yellow Card

165 mins

250 mins

Cheick Tiote may have slightly slipped in his tackle and duel success rate, but he is actually making more tackles and getting involved in one-on-ones more frequently this campaign. This means he is adapting to the English game by becoming more involved to win the ball back, but also as he is being asked to press more by boss Alan Pardew which we’ll look at in a minute.

Where Tiote has improved is in his reading of the game. The Ivorian’s interceptions are up this season, as he is now making an interception every 33 minutes, as opposed to every 35 minutes last term. This increase, although only slight, could mean eight more interceptions over the course of a season, just by his improved reading of the play.


Cheick Tiote is strong and reads the game well

Reading the play better, means that he is now being booked less often and not missing games due to racking up the cautions. His minutes per Yellow Card have improved from getting booked every 165 minutes on pitch in the Premier League last season, to every 250 minutes this campaign.

Cheick Tiote is not only reading the game better, but also blocking more shots this season. He’s got in the way of an opposition striker’s effort every 209 minutes this campaign, as opposed to every 257 minutes last time out.

A stat that may be overlooked is that Tiote is now making a higher percentage of passes inside his own half. This indicates that the Ivorian is distributing the ball after making an interception or tackle, but that he is operating slightly deeper. We’ll take a look at this in more detail later.

Cheick Tiote against the Premier league’s best defensive midfielders

Cheick Tiote has announced himself as one of the top defensive midfielders this season, now attracting interest from the major clubs like Manchester City, Manchster United, Chelsea and Liverpool. So let’s see how he stacks up against the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League.

Duels Won Per Game

Ground Tackles Won Per Game

Interceptions Per Game

Shots Blocked Per Game

L. Leiva





A. Faurlin





C. Tiote





M. Fellaini





S. Parker





M. Diame





M. Carrick





G. Barry





O. Romeu





Cheick Tiote has been right up there with the Premier League’s top defensive midfield stoppers, as he sits third in duels won, second in interceptions and third in shots blocked per game.

Where he is off the pace slightly is in his ground tackling, which has seen him win 2.2 slide tackles per game, good enough for sixth best. However, this is not necessarily an indicator that he is not performing as well as the other players mentioned. With his interceptions so high, Cheick Tiote is reading the game very well and therefore doesn’t need to go to ground as much.

Cheick Tiote and his impact on Newcastle

Cheick Tiote has missed six Premier League matches with a knee injury this season and Newcastle have struggled. Without Tiote in the line-up, their form and goals against column have taken a hit.




With Cheick Tiote




Without Cheick Tiote




With Cheick Tiote in the line-up, Newcastle have actually scored slightly less goals than they have without him. This can happen when a team is keeping the goals against column down, as they do not have to chase the game. It can also indicate that a team is playing in a more controlled and in a better-disciplined manner.

It’s in goals conceded and average Premier League points gained that the Magpies have struggled when Cheick Tiote is not in the team. With Tiote in the line-up, the Toon have only conceded an average of 0.8 goals per game, whereas without him they have shipped 2.2 goals per match. Quite an alarming turnaround, one that Alan Pardew must be weary of with the Ivorian disappearing to the African Cup of Nations for potentially six matches.

How Cheick Tiote solidifies the Newcastle United midfield

As we’ve seen, Newcastle fare much better with Cheick Tiote in the line-up, but how does he solidify the middle of the park?

It starts off with Tiote’s positioning. As with any good holding midfielder, Tiote operates with discipline and good positional awareness. If we take a look at two games against some of the Premier League’s best teams, we can see just how he gives support to the defence and shores up the midfield.

Against Arsenal, we can see that Cheick Tiote (24) sits in behind the midfield, allowing them to push on and just in front of the two centre backs to provide cover. This is the classic holding midfielder position, but top teams can pull the opposing holding midfielder around, so Tiote’s disciplined approach shows how good he is.


Cheick Tiote (24) average position against Arsenal

In his last Premier League game against Manchester United, we can see the same thing. Again, Tiote (24) offers support to the midfield, allowing the likes of Cabaye (4) and Ryan Taylor (16) to go and play, whilst supporting his centre backs, Coloccini (2) and Williamson (6).


Cheick Tiote (24) average position against Man Utd

Tiote is again in a classic holding midfielder role, but against the top teams, it’s easy for a defensive midfielder to get pulled around the park. Tiote’s discipline and awareness allowed the Magpies to run out 3-0 winners against a Man Utd side that had won five straight Premier League games away from home.

As we saw before, Cheick Tiote makes 60% of his passes in his own half and this is evident in both the Arsenal and Man Utd matches.

Against the Gunners, Tiote makes the bulk of passes in his half of the field, within 15-yards of the half way line, 44% of his passes are made here from an overall 57% in his own half. On the defensive side of the ball, Tiote also does his tackling in the same areas, where he successfully won the ball back from four out of five challenges.


Cheick Tiote passes and tackling against Arsenal - Guardian Chalkboards

In another recent match against Bolton, we can see a similar thing happening. Tiote makes 47% of his passes within 15 yards of the halfway line inside his own half, with a total of 61% of all of his passes being made in the Newcastle half of the field. Again, his tackling is done in a central area 15-yards either side of the halfway line and five of his six challenges are successful.


Cheick Tiote passing and tackling maps against Bolton - Guardian Chalkboards

In his last Premier League match against Man Utd, we can see how Cheick Tiote adapts when the game becomes stretched as a result of Newcastle pressing the opposition. With Man Utd having a patched up rearguard, Alan Pardew used Shola Ameobi as an additional striker to press and harass the Red Devils’ back line. As a result of Newcastle’s increased pressing, Tiote now covers more of the pitch, but still makes 62% of his passes in his own half.

In terms of his tackling he is almost operating at two levels. One where he is back in his own half making challenges between his area and the halfway line, then another where he is pressing just inside the Man Utd half.


Cheick Tiote passing and tackling maps against Man Utd - Guardian Chalkboards

Newcastle would run out 3-0 winners as they pressed and also bombarded Man Utd with long balls for the entire 90 minutes. Cheick Tiote made three interceptions, two from with 15-yards of his own half from reading the play, the third inside the Man Utd half, as a direct result of pressing.


Cheick Tiote intercepts the ball at two levels. Firstly whilst defending, then also when pressing - Guardian Chalkboards

Just how much is Cheick Tiote going to be missed by Newcastle?

Cheick Tiote has been an unsung hero for Newcastle this season, with his performances overshadowed by the goals of Demba Ba and the reaction saves of Tim Krul.

Tiote though, is also a major asset to Newcastle’s success. The Ivorian has played with discipline and control in his positioning on the pitch, whilst also reading the game better and getting booked less often.

After a good campaign, Cheick Tiote has now settled in to the English game and is helping to propel Newcastle up the table towards a Europa league, or even a Champions League spot. With the Ivorian in the line up, the Magpies having conceded just 0.8 goals per game, as opposed to 2.2 goals per game without him.

So, with Cheick Tiote off to the African Cup of Nations for a possible six Premier League matches, just how much will Newcastle United miss him?

Join The Team:

Get new analysis delivered to your inbox:

, , , ,

3 Responses to Just how much is Cheick Tiote going to be missed by Newcastle?

  1. 1 Goal Tube March 18, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Today newcastle is poor in the match but still win the match and get the to the top 4

  2. Chelsea April 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Newcastle did’t played well but still win congratx :)


  1. ‘Flattered’ Tiote loves Toon | Manchester United Schedule and Fixtures - January 22, 2012

    [...] admits that interest from the Premier League's biggest clubs "makes you think twice".[ Read More ]Cheick Tiote has proclaimed his love for Newcastle, but admits that interest from the Premier League…loat:right;margin:5px;">[ Read More ] WordPress › [...]