Arsenal v Newcastle: the Untold gameplan, the teams, the result

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By Phil Gregory

Arsenal return home after the second string fell to defeat in the Ukraine in midweek. An inconsistent Newcastle side are the guests at the Emirates, coming in off the back of an impressive 5-1 derby win. I was fortunate enough to be able to pick the brain of Rhys my Geordie mate before writing this article, so Untold have the inside track included in the match preview.

I’m not surprised to see the four absentees for the Donetsk game come back for the weekend’s match. Wenger stated that it would have been “impossible” for Denilson, Cesc and Song to play but I’m convinced had it been a semi final in the Champions League, the “impossible” would have merely been considered “a gamble”. Not that that is a criticism of Wenger: given our propensity to pick up injuries he took the prudent course in a game that we could afford to rotate in.

The result was disappointing, as it always is when we lose, however from seeing the team that we were taking to Ukraine the result didn’t come as too much of a shock  (it’s very rare that I ever predict us not to win a match!). At the end of the day, we were playing away against a strong side and the midfield in particular was depleted. To lose is always disappointing, but plenty of positives should be taken from a solid overall performance from the second string.

Gibbs and Diaby are both out of the Newcastle game, with the condition of the latter causing some real concern. He hasn’t been seen since being assaulted by Robinson in the Bolton match, and has apparently seen a couple of surgeons who are totally mystified by his ankle injury. Of course, the challenge wasn’t even worthy of a free kick according to the referee despite being one of the worst lunges I’ve seen for a while…

Fabregas is facing fitness test but is expected to start according to Wenger. If there’s any concern whatsoever he’s likely to appear on the bench given his importance to the team’s season. With Jack back into midfield, Nasri could play the Cesc role and we wouldn’t be short of creativity in the middle of the park.  Song’s back, Denilson is fit after a midweek absence and Arshavin is over his virus too. Van Persie has returned to training just in time for Dutch national team (surely in the interests of maintaining good club – country relations at the very least they shouldn’t call him up?)

All in all that leads me to predict a line-up of:


Sagna Squillaci Koscielny Clichy

Song Wilshere


Walcott Chamakh Arshavin

The back five is as you’d expect given the injuries and taking into account the rotation for the game in Ukraine. Wilshere will likely return to Premier League action after his suspension and will take up a deep lying position next to Song, who’ll hold.

Hopefully Cesc will be passed fit to start in midfield, if not Nasri will be the likely replacement. After his goal in midweek I’d expect Theo to go wide right, Arshavin on the left and Chamakh up front. There’ll be no shortage of options on the bench, with Rosicky, Vela and Bentdner all available to be brought on.

And now to Newcastle. Their first choice keeper Harper is out, so young Dutchman Tim Krul steps in.  Despite a lack of experience with the Newcastle first team (he’s barely featured for them in the league, despite a season in the Championship last year) he’s done well during his current stint in the starting eleven.

Simpson and Enrique will continue as their fullbacks, the latter of whom has really come on since his last spell in the Premier League. Argentinian international Coloccini and former Portsmouth stopper Williamson will complete the back four for Newcastle. Kevin Nolan comes into the game after a hat trick against Sunderland.

The ex-Bolton man has proved to be a key figure for Newcastle since his transfer in January 2009, despite an initially mixed reception from the Toon Army. Joey Barton is another likely midfield starter for Newcastle, coming into the game after a solid start to the season.  Guttierez should be on the right, with Barton on the left and new signing Tioté anchoring the midfield.

Up front the much talked-about Andy Carroll will partner Shola Ameobi. Carroll is certainly a divisive figure, and he’s not really my cup of tea. He’s made a reasonable start to his Premier League career, getting amongst the goals and generally performing well. Courtesy of his nationality and the fact he isn’t very old, a few decent performances (one of which was admittedly a hat trick against Villa) culminated in calls for an England call-up. For me, he still has much to prove and will struggle to forge more than a mediocre top flight career for himself unless he can keep off-field distractions to a minimum.

That would mean Newcastle lining up in 442, which gives them plenty of options if they intended to play a pressing game with an eye on our ability on the ball.  451 is often considered a “defensive” formation but I don’t tend to agree, as with just one up front you have no chance to press from the front effectively. It’s really a possession formation, seeking to win the midfield battle with the extra man and defend by holding onto the ball. Playing 442 instead, they’ll be intending to give us something to think about, and perhaps make us more cautious in attack with that in mind. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how our defensive midfielders’ roles pan out.

Newcastle are by no means a bad side, but given our returnees and home advantage, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t win by at least a two goal margin. Predictions are made more difficult by their inconsistency of performance, and I’m torn between 3-1 or 2-0.

We’re certainly capable of putting a few past them given the scoreline in the Carling Cup, but I’ll hope for a clean sheet and put my neck out on the block at 2-0 to the Arsenal.


The referee is Mike Dean.  Oh my god.

Arsenal to play 4-2-2-2-2-2-2-2 ?

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48 Replies to “Arsenal v Newcastle: the Untold gameplan, the teams, the result”

  1. I really won’t mind about the scoreline, so long as we nick the 3 points. ManUre won yesterday, I’m optimistic that Chelsea will lose 2 points today.

  2. This is an important week. We have newcastle today, wolves away in the mid-week and everton away next weekend. This is probably the toughest fixtures for arsenal till now. And we need to win all three. Today probably we have an easy match as compared to the rest two games in the week, but again we cant be complacent. I hope we thrash newcastle by 5 or 6 goals. That would really bring some much needed confidence back to the team.

    If we have van persie available then i hope we play him as a substitute in this game and start him against wolves midweek.cesc too shud be substituted once we hav good lead bcoz we wud need him in every game this month.

  3. I am cautiously optimistic. If you watched the game between Newcastle and Sunderland, you would noticed the raw physical approach by Newcastle. Coupled with their passion and hunger (and not forgetting their manager’s saga), they are not easy meat (I suppose nothing is easy in BPL these days).

  4. i don,t like dis referee mike dean is killer of joy he did not good enough to handle arsenal match he can not meet up pace of the match.

  5. blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, cesc shouldn’t be risked from the start, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…

  6. @dark prince
    u mean u will feel better if rvp gets injured with us rather than with holland???
    nufc were home and it was derby….it will be different at ems, however if we don’t get a goal by first 30 min, it will be nervy then…

  7. Critic, what an incredibly intelligent contribution, thank you so much. I can’t wait for your next words of wisdom.

  8. On my way up to the emirates now, looking forward to a good ol’ fashion rinse out by the rampant gunners

  9. Well if someone should injure him it should be those that pay him 50k a week not those who put him up for show for fun.

    One rather not see RVP injured but if hes gonna be used next week anyway by the dutch.. mmmm muight aswell use him now i think. Maybe he gets a slight knock that means he has to be out a couple of more weeks,just over the international break 🙂

  10. If Wednesday was an After the Lord Mayor’s Parade performance, today we weren’t good enough to carry the buckets.

  11. I’m expecting to read alot of bile spewed by the most fickle supporters in the Premier League.

    In a week when:
    Arsenal’s reserves lost 0-2 to Villa’s youngsters.
    Arsenalcontrived to be outplayed by some European unknowns
    and Arsenal’s first teamers have lost at home to Newcastle

    perhaps we can get down from our ivory towers and realise that Arsenal, as a whole, are a good club, run very well etc. BUT they are NOT a TOP side.

    Expectations need to be lowered around here and the general patronising, condescending tone projected towards other clubs should be toned down a little. Each time I check this site out after a match there seems to be so much egg on the faces of its authors that it becomes a rather cringe-inducing, painful read.

  12. Just to add: a poster above uses the analogy of “after the Lord Mayor’s show” to sum up recent performances. I would suggest it is more a case of the Emperor and his new clothes. Arsenal are simply not as good as the London media are telling us!

  13. “Im torn between 3-1 or 2-0″…….

    Errrrr how about 0-1 to Newcastle! Ha ha ha, arrogant gooner fans yet again thinking that they will always win.

    Dejavu season after season, when are u lot going to learn to stop claiming ur team is the ‘New Invicibles’ when u have one good game then come crashing straight back down to earth when u lose the next game???? Same old story…boring boring boring!

  14. Fabianksi at fault for goal.

    Team tired in general.

    Three questions:

    Should the policy of flying straight home after an away European game be changed, can it do the players any good getting home at 5am?

    Do Nasri and Cesc crowd each other?

    If Nasri and Theo both in team, should Nasri be played on right and Theo on left, because I think Nasri does best work on right?

  15. Tring to see any positives from that and I managed to scrape up: 1) Well the big test for Fabisnki has been how he handles an error, made one and was solid afterwards. 2) Arshavin provided some spark, 3) Van Persie gets some match fitness

    and that’s about it. Sagna struggled at first but overall, really hard to measure our defence against a team that set more to defend and yes, frustrating that we concede but mistakes happen, particularly if you have keepers who like to come and claim. The alarming thing was the, what, two shots on target we managed? At home! Midfield did have the edge in terms of possession but never looked dominant and create little. Song looked, till Arshavin came on, our best chance of creating anything! Walcott and Nasri both did one thing then zilch for the rest of the game, why wasn’t Walcott providing width at any point? Cesc spent more time harassing Dean then creating chances, Wilshire had little impact. Our central strikers had no service to feed off in their defence but would have hoped for something from all 3 of them

  16. Arsenal are probably the only club in world football where a supposed defensively midfielder is given the license to be a play maker whereas an outstanding young attacking talent is made to play deep.

    Even Stevie Wonder will know when Newcastle get a free kick, Andy Caroll is the guy who should be marked well. Who was marking him? We can fault Flappy as much as we want but the defense was as responsible for their goal. I do not know what Squilacci brings to the team. He was supposed to be the strong no nonsense centre half that we were crying out for. When Vermaelen gets fit, its not Kos but Squilacci who should make way. Granted Vermaelen and Kos are perhaps too similar and lightweight to be playing together, but Squilacci himself have hardly been a monster.I will not slate Walcott much cause he has been playing well of late. But its probably safe to assume, he is much more effective when brought on as a sub when the opposition is either chasing the game or tired.

    Cesc, the little said the better. One of the most awful performances I have seen from him. I hope it was injury that forced Nasri off, cause Fabregas should have been the guy substituted. Even late on, Wilshire who was our best player along with Kos got substituted instead of Cesc. Sometimes you have to take tough decisions Arsene.

    The West Brom and this game have shown that any side who defends well in the first quarter of an hour and shows ambition going forward, will always have a chance at the Grove, cause we just dont know how to defend.

  17. So that was why we rested our so called big guns from that “meaningless” game in midweek was it ?

    Glad about that because Chamakh, Fabregas and Koscielny were really on the money today weren’t they ? Well done Arsene – we fucked it up on both scores – given ourselves a tough away assignment in Braga in between playing the Spuds and Villa, and thrown away the title before Christmas again. Fucking spot on there.

    And BTW the title is gone – we’ve lost at home to Newcastle and West Brom – you can imagine Chelsea doing that, I suppose. The inevitable no pointers at OT and at home to the Chavs still to come too.

    Back in our rightful place in the table and no higher will we go all season.

    I know people disagreed strongly when I said it the other day but this is Groundhog season. No strength in depth, no chance of the title, no answers to the problems to come in January.

    Still all the while 60,000 people go through the gate every fortnight and we do the minimum job of finishing 4th who cares what the fans think eh ?

    That was fucking dross Wenger – again. Not even the “we play beautiful football” story today – outpassed, outfought…at home to Newcastle

    Arsene knows……precisely fuck all

  18. Well there you have it, the second game I have missed at the Grove and…its the same result

    0-1 defeat…

    that was so piss poor its unreal…..and to think i will make the effort to travel to Goodison next weekend…..

    fuck sake

  19. its easy to be critical after a defeat or in this case 2 defeats in 4 days, but how can wenger watch this dross and not realise he has made huge mistakes, his constant refusal to strengthen this side over the past 5 years have been disgraceful, the bigger worry is that he will carry on with his stubborn vanity project, we can all blame the likes of flappy, eboue, bendtner vela and denilson, but the real problem is with aw, i dont think and havent for a while now that this great club will ever move forward now with wenger in charge, i can accept mistakes, but not 5 years of neglect and cheap signings, its time for a change gp wenger and take some of this dross you have assembled with you

  20. Whoops, looks like we lost again.

    Still, I’m sure you’ll all look on the bright side Arsene will get it right in the end.

    Profit + Top4 = Success.

  21. Well, every time, now and than, someone beat you, or you beat someone. Thats why football is played. Otherwise we would not have games on pitch than board card games and one with strongest cards would always win.
    But in football it is complicated a bit because there is no instant success. And sometime, despite your strength, you get beaten by team who have bigger heart or balls than you.
    Today we faced one of such opponents and thats it. Life goes on, title chase goes on.

  22. Tony I love your optimism on this blog but having seen arsenal for over 30 years, being a season ticket holder for some 20 years, I was appalled by the lack if desire and application it was exactly the same as west brom.

    We hardly created anything and I think the players are too cosseted and have no hunger. Adams/vieira/keown/petit/edu etc would never have accepted the attitude, where was fabregas in terms of forcibly having a go at the team?

    He’s a great player when on song but is not a leader in a true sense. We’ve lost “men” and are led by a kid who has no senior players to advise him about how to handle things, although he’s talented he seems not to have the verbal authority and balls to drag the team and push them hard.

    Today was appalling and we won’t win anything with the lack of attitude.

    It reminded me when we lost to Blackburn at home but I doubt the players will take it upon themselves to change things. The fans that night sang ‘do you want to win the league?’ but today the fans were just resigned to mediocrity .

  23. The only person it appears who got an away result this week looks to be Arsene himself. Not sure I would consider it a victory however, some waitress/rapper? How disappointing for our boss to be embroiled in this kind of seedy behaviour?

    He talks about complacency yet what can be more complacent than having an affair?

    He talks about spirit yet what can be more corrosive on spirit than lies, deceipt and subterfuge.

    I’m so disaapointed I can’t tell you! No wonder we lost today!

    I predict bad times ahead. This team is a bunch of pygmies who can bully a lesser team on a fine spring evening but we are going to get mullered in the next few months and will be in 7/8th place come February!

  24. That really was poor. Two defeats at home to newly promoted teams – that will just not do.

    Can anyone tell me why the club ditched Keown as defence coach: Because the last two games, and a few more this season suggest we could do with him, or someone like him. Who exactly is our defence coach?
    Those two today are good defenders, I am just not convinced they are yet EPL ready.
    Hurry back Vermaelen

  25. The worrying thing for Arsenal is that if they’re not steam-rolling the also-rans (like last season) and yet continue to lose to Chelsea and Man. Utd. (like last season) they’ll finish….erm…..third……and still be on the gravy train anyway! Result! Dontcha just love the ‘Champions’ League!

  26. Mandy Dodd

    A mate of mine met Keown, apparently we were not prepared to pay keown a decent salary and at the time he had quite a bit of tv work including in Ireland so he couldn’t keep all of his commitments in yerms if the constant travelling,so went with what paid him the most.

    He implied that arsenal asked him and bould to do some coaching for free on a trial basis so in the end had to go with whoever paid him

  27. Thanks Keith,
    That I find very very worrying. Sometimes you just have to fork out to get quality. I think we looked the part defensively during his short duration. I Tony Adams available?
    Still money should be no excuse now! That defence really need working on

  28. so…

    Of course nothing worse than filthy poster’s on this site telling us after a filthy loss what has always been their montre…

    I am just disappointed! Wenger I hope he gets his personal situation in order…

    I fear though this is the beginning of the end…

    I wrote privately that something was up with Wenger earlier this year. My thought was health issues.. But, it seems I was wrong. If these reportings are true I expect a resignation… No manager is bigger than the club…

  29. Some reports suggesting Wenger’s lady friend is begging him to join her.
    Only reports who knows if there is any truth at all but if there is anything in this, could be very unsettling to the players, some of whom may be here for Wenger rather than the club.

    Really hope this is not true – how could we replace Wenger? I have been a little critical of the defensive and GK situation today but no other manager could do what he has done on his budget.

  30. Their goalie made a few cracking saves… so come on – stop self harming and let’s look at the positives.

    Chelsea lost today… so does that also mean that they are not as good as the London media makes out? We do have some crap fans – and yes it is annoying when some turd crawls out of the woodwork to stick the boot in… but – woudl you rather support his club?

    Ha ha – no chance!

    I agree that the Wenger rumours regarding his private life had an impact today and may continue to have an impact depending on how the media wish to spin it.

    I sincerely hope it all resolves itself ASAP.

    And to anyone starting to doubt it may I remind you that we are actually by FAR the GREATEST TEAM the WORLD has EVER SEEN!

    Keep le faith.

  31. I want to start by saying that I am a fan of Wenger. But he got it wrong today and it cost us 3 points that should have been towards the easier end of the scale.First Team selection. I think he got it spot on. Arshavin needed to be dropped from the starting line up because he has pissed me off more than any other player this season. Song and Wilshere as Defensive Midfielders is a solid pairing and it says a lot about how far Jack has come along that in my opinion he was our best player today by a mile.From where I was sitting in The Clock End, it looked like the goal was Fabianski’s fault and now I’ve watched the full match again on my Sky Plus (I’m a masochist) it looks as though I was right. In a way, I’m glad he made the mistake because maybe Arsene was starting to think we didn’t need a keeper in January and I am in no way convinced by Fabianski, even if he has had a good couple of games by us. I still get that sick feeling in my stomach when a striker is running towards him or a cross comes towards him.Cesc today was probably the worst I’ve ever seen him. Maybe he was worse at Blackburn away this season, but the amount of times I watched him mis-place simple passes was astounding. I’ll have to give him benefit of the doubt because he’s still not 100% fit and although he was appauling at the passing side, he did have a couple of good moments where I thought he was gonna score or set someone up.Wenger had to change things around and I have to say that I was surprised that he brought Nasri off, although he did go down in the first half so maybe there is a hint of an injury. But Arshavin had an immediate impact and I think we were all hoping that he was going to turn it all around. What surprised me though was that Wenger brought Jack off and left Cesc on. Now I know Cesc is our captain, but he was having a nightmare out there and Jack was having a solid game so it was a weird choice for me.RVP’s substitution came a lot earlier than I had anticipated and it almost smacked of desperation. The guy is clearly not fit yet and will no doubt have injured himself today because that’s what he does so this gamble may have backfired. But as long as the Dutch can’t have him for a friendly eh?For the final bit of the game, we had Walcott, RVP, Arshavin and Bendtner all on and it looked as though we were playing a 4-2-4 formation, which is all well and good, but there was no-one there to create any chances for our 4 strikers. We struggled breaking down a pretty average side (credit where it’s due to the Geordies but we should have beat this lot, and by a margin.)The atmosphere was as shit as I can remember and I blame that partly on the players for not inspiring us enough, but massively on the fans. I had a Geordie mate come down for the game and before he even got here, I was embarrassed about our atmosphere and during the game, I was cringing at how we still manage to pack 60,000 people in, yet you could still hear a pin drop if it wasn’t for the away fans. The “Rooney Loyalty” post on the homepage sums up a good reason for why it’s like this now, but it’s part of the reason why I prefer going to away games now as opposed to how I used to love to stand in the North Bank, panicking as a youngster that the older Gooners might sing a song that I didn’t know the words for. Fat chance of that nowadays

  32. it was a long journey today and a very disturbing result.
    To travel some 500 miles to see us lose was over 30 years ago.
    But thats live, thats football. You win some, you lose some, you might get lucky now and then and sometimes lady luch turns away from you and this is what you get.

    But as I am back home now I can only come to one conclusion: I still love my Arsena, the players, the manager. And this will never change.

  33. Walter,

    You are the best! All those miles and the heartbreaks… Sleep well my friend. I appreciate it all. Long live the Gunners We will prevail in the end….

  34. Walter, I know how you feel… I traveled over 3500 miles for this game, across the Atlantic! I really hoped for a much better showing — from the team AND the home support (who I thought were appalling).

  35. Well well well.. I must say i am mighty surprised here and i’msure tony won’t be too happy either reading the comments. YES it was a game we should have won, you are playing bar code at home and the least you would expect is a WIN but i think we are getting too ahead of ourselves now.If you look at how manu got the 3 points you’ll know what i am talkin about. And for F***s sake its a game and anything can happen! Bring it on you gooners.. The race is far from over

  36. no worries !
    we r still in this with a shout.All we hav to do is stay within touching distace( ie 3 to 5 points ) of league leaders whoever that may be ,and we can nick it after a slip-up.
    And dont forget we have vermaelen,diaby,denilson,gibbs and ramsay( how we miss him ) to join us in few weeks/months .

  37. But if there is one thing i really felt bad apart from the fact that hte midfield had an off day was the crowd. Tony etc etc whoever s regular to the ems can you tell me something,are the fans as quite as as they appear on tv? its bloody apalling. A bunch of indian kids infront of a t.v make more noise( NOTE: Indians are generally blatantly more louder).. but really you guys pay so much money to get in there so why not shout your lungs out, ok Tony s not too young granted;) he cant scream his mind out but what about the rest?

  38. There was a palpable lack of passion from both the team and the fans.Le Boss too seemed pensive and not his usual bottle kicking self.
    We have only lost one more game than the leaders, who too were poor ,so all is not loss.Chalked it up as a poor day at the office and hope to turn it around at Wolves.

  39. Time for a change. We need fresh ideas. Keep Wenger but change his remit and bring in new coaches

  40. Captain Cesc – what a joke! He’s just not captain material. Fantastic player but simply not a captain

  41. We lack direct minded strikers like Tores. Persie needs a descent pairing unlike this unfocussed mediocre Chamak. It was so irritating to see him pass the ball instead of taking a vicious shot. It is our dilly darling with the ball and lack of directness that teams can sit back and defend well cause we are so predictable.A good side would have thumped us more. The coach is the problem that even the players cant do simple basics. Clichy in the champions league. Fuck the passing game which is costing us season in and out.We cant win any thing as long as we keep passing the ball into the net. The pride of Emirates is gone and i wonder how long the fans should keep on paying to watch mediocre results. Its all pathetic. The coach has really hurt us enough and he never seems to mind as long as the board is content with revenues.We should boycott home games otherwise this is another trophyless season. Its very good that the signs have shown very early in the season that we are mere jokers around.

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