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Preview: Arsenal versus Newcastle, Tottenham watch on anxiously.

By Phil Gregory

The extremely timely slump of Tottenham continued yesterday, with a defeat for our beloved neighbours versus an Everton side on the up. This offers us the tantalising prospect of cutting the deficit to Spurs to one point with a win against Newcastle. Overtaking Spurs would be particularly sweet “what, apparent the worst Arsenal team under Wenger just overtook the best Spurs team in thirty years? Fancy that!” Bragging rights aside, third place would also mean an easier opening to the season, no potential two legged ties versus the likes of Udinese to impact on our August league fixtures. Not much riding on it, then.

Playing on a Monday night is always a little bit peculiar, taking us away from the familiarity of weekend football. Given our injury list though, an extra couple of days until the game may have been to our benefit for this tie.

A glance at the form table suggests this game could be a close one, with Newcastle just above us with the third most points over the last eight games, fourteen to our thirteen. That sample however includes our early 2012 slump, in the last five we’re the standout team of the two. Looking at the respective home and away records there isn’t too much to report, with both sides over/underperforming at home and away respectively, as would be expected with home advantage.

The win versus Milan didn’t cost us any players thankfully, allaying fears that Chamberlain and Walcott could be facing spells on the sidelines. With the likes of Arteta and Ramsey being welcomed back into the squad our dearth of central midfielders has been relieved a little bit. Diaby has been ruled out, with Benayoun expected back in training on Sunday, so possibly fit for the bench.

Diaby is an interesting case, capable of some outstanding moments but all too rarely fit to get on the pitch. It’s almost unbelievable to think he is 25, given how little he has played for us since arriving. While I can understand those fans frustrated with his injury situation, people should be careful with what they wish for. The exact same charge sheet that can be levelled against Diaby now could also have been said against Van Persie a year or so ago, and indeed then many were increasingly fed up with Dutchman’s misfortune with injuries. Castigating Van Persie for being “Injury prone” was a topic I wrote about back in December 2009, so you can’t even say I’m writing with the benefit of hindsight. A resurgent Tomas Rosicky has been another that many fans wanted out, likely at the same time as slating Wenger for not having enough experience in the squad. The fact of the matter is, as fans how can we demand loyalty from players when the moment they get a few injuries, we demand that they are sold? Arsenal sticking with players through their injury worries is loyalty; players sticking with Arsenal despite our troubles in recent seasons is also loyalty. To expect players to be loyal to the club, but then not to stick by them through periods of injury would simply be hypocritical.

Moving onto the matter at hand, the line-up for Newcastle:

Szcznesy

Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs

Song Arteta

Rosicky

Walcott Van Persie Gervinho

A few returnees give us some welcome breathing room in selecting the line up. Arteta will surely come back into midfield next to Song, which will offer us greater balance in midfield and provide a solid platform for the creative talents of Rosicky to flourish.

Although Wenger gave no indication that Chamberlain had suffered a lasting injury in the aftermath of the Milan tie, the youngster will likely stay on the bench for this game for the sake of caution. We have adequate options on the flanks, with Walcott and Gervinho a capable duo. Van Persie, as ever, starts up front.

Newcastle are without any major injury concerns apart from the season-ending injury of Steven Taylor a while back, and boast an impressive side that is performing well this season. They shipped out some apparent English “stars” and looked to build the side with greater ability in possession, with Frenchman Cabaye particularly impressive. Looking for weaknesses in their side, I think our wide players will be able to get at their fullbacks, who have not been entirely convincing this season, and that will be an area we will look to exploit. Newcastle aren’t a side who are too interested in possession, seeking to get the ball forward with precision and utilise their potent strikers. The defence will need to be on guard against this direct style.

It wouldn’t be too much of a surprise if we bossed possession in this game, looking at the two sides and how they are likely to set up this seems more than likely. That said however, I’d imagine we will concede at some point: While Koscielny and Vermaelen are good defenders, Newcastle’s strikers will ensure they have to have an excellent game in order to keep a clean sheet. If Newcastle sit deep and frustrate Arsenal it could be a tight game, and avoiding giving the likes of Ba and Cisse the opportunity to score and require Arsenal to get two will be key for me. At home I think we’ll win it, hopefully we won’t see the usual Webb “let the game flow” refereeing style (read: let one team kick the sh*t out of the other, and kill the game that way) but I won’t hold my breath. I’m not convinced it’ll be a classic, we might nick it 1-0 but more likely is 2-1 to the Arsenal for my money.

34 comments to Preview: Arsenal versus Newcastle, Tottenham watch on anxiously.

  • Asat Media

    Spot On! Can’t believe you wrote that Piece on Van Persie years Back. Indeed, Arsene Knows! I’m Optimistic we’ll Goon the Toons And then Spud would cry in the Mud. Lol;-)

  • ak47

    i’ll go for 4-1 to us with gervinho bagging a brace. coyg.

  • Dan T

    I’ll raise you and say 4-0

  • The Voice Of God

    Ba First Goal 1-0 The Toon, Odds 100- 1

  • MJB

    I think we will win but it will be a hard earned win. Newcastle will be looking to prove themselves, so I’ll say it’ll be 3-2 to The Arsenal.

    COYG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • alireza fayyazmanesh

    After all these spiculations i hope we play well, no matter how many goals we scores. I have a good feeling 4 tomorrow, special with return of our key players like Arteta. i hope Satos play as well. lets hope 4 the best. GOOD LUCK TO TEAM ANF FANS.

  • arsenal will beat them 3 0 because most of the arsenal players who are injured are back but arsenal should not take newcastle for the granted but arsenal will win

  • nickfromportugal

    should win but we never do what we should do without raising blood pressure of all gooners in the poricess, I go 3-1

  • andy

    I admit that Rosicky has been in form lately, but what really concerns/annoys me is that he as done very little for the past few years. The suddenly his current good form coincides with a new contract extension. Seriously!
    As for Diaby, I totally agree. I thought he looked decent coming on against Liverpool. Remember that is setbacks are due to the horrific broken leg he suffered. I’m sure one he settled he will come good. Just like RvP.

  • Dan

    I think you will edge it, but arn’t you forgetting you haven’t beaten us in the last 3 attempts. 😉

  • Shard

    The real question is, Will we see a Dowd-esque performance nearly one year on?

  • I think it could be a good game.

    If Pardew goes for a 4-4-2 formation, our senegalese attack of Ba and Cisse could hurt you – if we can get the ball to them.

    If he goes for 4-5-1 Ba will probably play on his own up front whilst we try to strangle your midfield boys!

    Hope it’s a good game!

  • Dan

    You could blame Dowd for the soft penalty, but then again your team came out in the second half like the game was won and all they had to do was show up. As a toon fan we have witnessed that this season (2-0 up against Wolves at half time) and it is so annoying. Don’t blame Dowd for your team taking their foot off the gas!!

  • Shard

    Arsenal have many failings. Some of which were shown up in the match last season. But the reason they were shown up was because of Dowd’s performance. It was plainly and simply corrupt. That’s the only explanation. Not saying I have anything against Newcastle as such. Of course Newcastle are our opponents tomorrow. Which means for now, they are the enemy. Beyond that I respect taht they are playing so well after selling their ‘stars’.

  • Arseboy70

    Anyone out there who thinks Pardew and Newcastle will turn up at the Emirates in a 4-4-2 formation and throw the game like they did at WHL a while ago??? No chance!!! They will of course play one up front and sit deep… 🙁 Pardew knows if he goes like they did against ‘The World’s Best Team’…they will be murdered! Early goal for us is vital for an entertaining match… ONLY ONE TEAM IN LONDON!

  • bob

    utd111,
    NU will “hurt” and “strangle” us? Oooo you big strong man, you.

  • bob

    andy,
    You insinuate that Rosicky is mercenary. AW however has recently praised him as a great footballer. I think you could be as charitable toward his long recovery as you are toward Diaby’s.

  • bob

    Achtung! Der Skript is in full effect. The rapturous keystrokes at the Manchester Guardians’ stenography section tell us: “Manchester City are buckling under the weight of their immense ambitions.” While ManUre showed they are chosen as (witness) “Rio Ferdinand unloaded a Hollywood ball to the forward [Young[ in a sweeping move that began with Scholes flipping possession to him. On looking up, Ferdinand saw Young motoring down his channel and placed the ball ahead of him. A touch of magic and he was inside the area to force one of the numerous United corners…” and so on, just as ManShitty’s “Manchester City’s posteriors may be squeaking.” The year of the Sycophant is upon us as the stenographers hasten to strew prose petals along the path to The Fergus XX. Air bags, anyone?

  • Alex

    @Andy
    Rosicky is playing well because now he is played in his position which is centre attacking midfield. In that past years he either played on the left or was sidelined by injuries, there was also a report that his wife lost their unborn baby two years or so back. Who knows how such a thing can affect player. I agree with Wenger when he says he is a great player and im sure everyone from the Czech Republic agrees too. As a matter of fact before his spell of injuries he actually was playing good football here at Arsenal scoring great goals and providing great assists. Im happy he is staying even though i think goetze or hazard or gourcuf should be first choice, ofcourse Wenger must sign one of them, while Rosicky remains a back up.

  • @Bob was Ashley young penalty any better than Arshavin= Carrick !!NOOO but when fergus and his betting zombies are in town nothing is impossible(How many penalties have Manure got this season compared to other teams and how many reds cards teams have got while playing manure). The Newcastle game;who is in charge? We have to be very,very careful as all the vultures will be at the ready.Phil thanks for that piece i wonder wot went in the brains of the AAA after going back to 99.

  • Re Rosicky and the centre of the midfield – that has been a problem for several players who all love to play there. Nasri wanted to play there, Rosicky, Wilshere, Arshavin – and they all play better when they play in the middle.

    It does look like the experiment of taking great players and moving them does not always work – unless we get them young enough (like Van Persie who given the way he has played here and there could probably also be a great left back).

    The oddity is Henry who was a centre forward, got moved to the wing, came back to the centre with Arsenal and then put himself on the left wing half the time!

  • Mickess

    Have to totally agree with the comments about Roscicky. I have been ‘bashing my head against a brick wall’ with some of my mates arguing that putting Rosicky or Arshavin in the central role would improve our penetration and lead to us winning more games. It’s good to see that Tomas has vindicated all of us who missed the pace and intelligence that position requires. Don’t get me wrong I like Ramsey but his injury forced the issue with Arsene and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our recent resurgence has occurred with Rosicky in the central role.
    On to tonight it seems like we have Howard Webb in the middle!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    3-1 for me .

  • Goona Gal

    If we could clinch third place, it would be a phenomenal achievement for a few reasons:-

    1. With the Euro’s fast approaching, we could have around 7-10+ squad players, playing in the tournament.

    2. We also have the worry that the silly Stuart Pearce could call up some of our players for team GB, though I think Arsenal should refuse to release players if possible.

    3. We could fit in a few more overeseas tours.

    4. We could have a better preseason.

    5. We get more EPL money if we finish 3rd.

    6. Finishing higher than we have done for few years would be fitting end to the season where we celebrated 125yrs, lost some key players and had a really bad start to the season.

    7. It would be a fitting two fingers to the boo boys and media hate campaign.

    There is a lot to player for, this game is important.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    ‘Bragging rights aside, third place would also mean an easier opening to the season, no potential two legged ties versus the likes of Udinese to impact on our August league fixtures. Not much riding on it, then.’

    WRONG.

    Third place offers guaranteed champions league football and hence the ability to sign players will only sign for champions league teams. At a stage in the summer which means the signed players do a pre-season with Arsenal rather than completing ‘pre-season’ when 10 games of a 38 game season are already completed.

    That’s what it is about.

    Or should be about.

  • Goona Gal

    I think my comment got stuck in moderation yesterday, but I was saying that this game for me is personal. I don’t have any issues with Newcastle FC or their fans, no this is about Pardew coming to bow down and kiss the ring!I hope he is sweating right now in his hotel room. He has watched us play, studied us and must be scratching his head. He has taken a few pops at Arsenal at the start of the season, he seemed to laugh and smile in a mocking way when he spoke about beating a big club like Arsenal at the start of the season in a few interviews. I think he even said something like ‘Arsenal were out to PROVE today that they were STILL a big club….’

    Pardew lambasted Martin O’Neil for being overly physical, when traditionally, that’s how all his teams have played against Arsenal. Pardew also goaded O’Neill when Newcastle got the equaliser in the same way he did Le Boss a few years ago. With those words still ringing in the ears, we will see whether Pardew sets out to play football tonight. With No Joey Barton or Nolan in the team, I hope we are in for a great game of football.

  • Ong Bing

    V for Vermaelen!!!

    He score winning goal in 95th minute!!!

    3 amazing point!!!

  • Damien Luu

    Yey! Our captain and vice-captain scored today. The latter at 90+5 min. If this is not fighting and winning spirit then I don’t know what it is 😀

    Off topic: These comments came from Owen Coyle about our Ryo:

    “He came on at half-time against Wigan and he was the best player on the pitch.

    “At Millwall he scored a wonder goal. He frightened the life out of Chelsea and did the same last week at Man City.”

    And he was MOtM of the last, his fourth, game playing for Bolton. Man, I KNEW I would love this boy 😀

  • Mandy dodd

    Cannot ignore ryaldos recent form, not that I am putting pressure on him or anything! In three or four years time, he will be a top top player

  • Goona Gal

    It was a great win today and great atmosphere in the ground. Even when I and the other home supporters were becoming increasing anxious with every miss, we were just willing and cheering the team on. This can only be summed up as belief and confidence that the players are good enough to come from a goal down and win the match. No one dropped their heads, instead the team became more agressive in going forward, with every player driving the game forward.

    Song played like he was on an imaginary yellow, which I don’t blame him for, from the start. I don’t blame him at all and Rosicky got a massive cheer at the start and when he came off – which was much deserved. I thought all of the team did well, but if I had to choose, I would pick Theo as he was amazing and my MoTM. He was lively and composed on the ball from the start, with great link up play down the flanks with Sagna. It’s clear that he really missed playing with him earlier in the season. Theo showed skill and intelligence when playing balls and making runs into the box. RVP showed passion and leadership (as usual). His quick goal took away a lot of Newcastle’s confidence.

    I didn’t think it was necessary for Webb to yellow card both Krul and RVP so late in the game, over what was essentially a bit of handbags. I would much preferred the crappy ref to make use of them when the physical challenges were flying about.

    Onwards and upwards – Arsenal are doing it the hard way.

  • Goonergerry

    Agree with Mandy Dodds assessment of Ryo- he looks a great player but rushing him will probably backfire.
    Great result- score line only had inevitability because we carried on attacking right until the end. Newcastle played well are a good side- strong in midfield – and I rate Ben Arfa as a top player. I thought we looked a bit lightweight in midfield at times in the first half- but whatever Arsene Wenger said at half time worked and front players played with far more cohesion in the second half- and I think thats why Rosicky was able to impose himself with more effect.

  • Alex

    great result. when’s next league game? Against who?… I just cant wait to watch these guys again… Oooh to be a Gooner!!!

  • Alex

    great result. when’s the next league game? Against who?… I just cant wait to watch these guys again… Oooh to be a Gooner!!!

  • Shakabula Gooner

    On Walcott,
    I got the impression he has been instructed to forget shooting for goals for now and, instead, to work harder on honing his ball-holding, dribbling to get out of tight spots and passing/crossing skills. In the 3 departments, he was top class! I hope he add sharp-shooting to score from great positions soonest so that he can be the complete footballer that Wenger is grooming him to become. One day, scavenger clubs will be lining upto tempt him off Arsenal with premium offers…then, we shall be able to mock those pundits who once claimed he had little football brains.