By Tony Attwood
When I used to play football (in a team somewhere near the foot of the 19th division of the local pub league) occasionally we didn’t have enough men and we might borrow one of the spectators.
These days Newcastle is a bit like that. Well almost. They’ve got 13 fit outfield players for the game. “Oops” as one might say.
The manager, a Mr Carver of Newcastle, said, “I’ve spoken to Lee Charnley [the MD] who has obviously spoken to Mike Ashley [the owner and shareholder in Rangers] and they acknowledge the fact that we’re a little bit short at the back and particularly at centre back….
“The good thing is I haven’t got a selection problem for Arsenal because I’ve only got 13 fit senior players, plus two keepers so that won’t be too difficult,” he said. “I keep hearing crutches coming down the corridor outside my door”
Which is a fairly odd image. But speaking of the board, Carver also said, “Who knows what they’re thinking.” And yes, I think we’d all agree.
Carver’s also had a bash at the entity known as Phil Neville, a Match of the Day “pundit” who said that Newcastle played with “their flip-flops on.” Carver said it was “insulting and it’s wrong. Now it’s down to us to show people we haven’t got our flip-flops on,” and you can’t say fairer than that.
As for Arsenal, some of the media tried to say that after the home defeat to Monaco it was business as usual, as Arsenal always fade at the end of the season.
This is not quite the case, as in 1999 we had an unbeaten run stretching from 20 December to 5 May, in 2004 we had an unbeaten season, and in 2010 we went top on 20 March after six straight wins. A year ago we only lost two of the ten games after going out of the Champs to Bayern M. Then we had the second and third double seasons, in which we went on very long runs to secure the title: 1998 and 2002. Or back in 2011/12 when after a defeat to Man U we lost two in the last 16.
Then in 2013 after Tottenham beat us 2-1 at their place we went the rest of the season recording eight wins and two draws in the last ten.
So 1997, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014. And that’s from memory – there’s probably a few more examples in between those two groups, but even if there’s not, the notion that Arsenal fall apart at the end of the season, or fall apart after losing in the Champions League is so utterly removed from the truth you wonder how the writers found the facts.
Unless they made them up!!!!!!!!!
Anyway Newcastle are ok because Carver can “communicate with players” which has been said in the press this week because, presumably, Mr Wenger can’t. (Incidentally our old boy Rémi Garde was in line for the job when Carver got it – it must be a relief to Rémi not to have got it.)
But then Carver must have known in advance because nothing much has changed since Alan Pardew left. He had wanted to buy a centre forward and a centre half, and the board said no.
Perhaps the board were influenced by the fact that the children of the press had kept saying for months that Arsenal needed a new defensive midfielder, a new centre forward and various new defenders, and then it turned out we already had them. Quite amazing that.
Coquelin was the man for the moment (as Untold predicted about six years before, or have I mentioned that before?), we already had another full back in Bellerin, Monreal was not a dope who should be put on the first boat to Spain but actually rapidly maturing into a superb full back, and Chambers is coming on nicely. Giroud, meanwhile, far from being so useless that Arsenal played better off without him, went on a scoring run and has now managed 11 goals in 18 league games this season which is a 61% ratio.
Not bad, so they probably thought they could “do an Arsenal”.
But Newcastle do things in their own unique way. They had a shortage of players so they loaned Davide Santon to Internazionale in January. Nice one.
Injuries and poor purchases subsequently seem to be at the heart of the problem, but there’s also the issue of the “Rangers 5”.
With the owner also being a shareholder in Rangers it was obviously a good call for him to loan his mates north of the whatnot a few odd legs.
Former England Under-20 midfielder Gael Bigirimana had made 28 appearances for Newcastle so he went. He hadn’t played for the club in the past season and a half, true but he could at least have helped make up the numbers or sat on the beach.
Slovenia international Haris Vuckic, Swiss defender Kevin Mbabu, English defender Remie Streete and Northern Ireland international Shane Ferguson also moved to Rangers at the same time.
And yes it is ok to ship out players on loan when you don’t need them, but when you are slipping down to 13 fit first teamers…
So this is what Newcastle have got so far this year (what Arsenal have done since we last met will be in the final pre-match article).
March 2015 – 2 defeats
|Premier League||Everton 3 Newcastle Utd 0||15 Mar||L|
|Premier League||Newcastle Utd 0 Man Utd 1||4 Mar||L|
February 2015 – 1 defeat 2 draws 1 win
|Premier League||Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 0||28 Feb||W|
|Premier League||Man City 5 Newcastle 0||21 Feb||L|
|Premier League||Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle 1||11 Feb||D|
|Premier League||Newcastle 1 Stoke 1||8 Feb||D|
January 2015 – 1 win 3 defeats 1 draw
|Premier League||Hull 0 Newcastle 3||31 Jan||W|
|Premier League||Newcastle 1 Soton 2||17 Jan||L|
|Premier League||Chelsea 2 Newcastle 0||10 Jan||L|
|FA Cup – Third Round||Leicester 1 Newcastle 0||3 Jan||L|
|Premier League||Newcastle 3 Burnley 3||1 Jan||D|
- Coming next: the teams
- Already published: the ref preview
- Also dont forget: Untold on Twitter: @UntoldArsenal
Anniversaries: the good and the bad
21 March 1913: Man U 2 Arsenal 0. Start of an eight match run without a win which relegated the club for the first and only time.
21 March 1979: Arsenal 2 Southampton 0. FA Cup 6 replay, with both goals coming from Alan Sunderland (who also scored in the semi-final and final).