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- Arsenal v Newcastle United. The transformation of two clubs with past glories
by Bulldog Drummond
And so, the last post of the build up for the Newcastle game.
The two clubs have played each other a massive 189 times, with Arsenal winning 83 and Newcastle 68. The defeat back in May (2-0 away) was very frustrating, and very unusual. In the previous 21 games we had only lost once (2-1 away in 2018) and our victories included the wonderful 7-3 drubbing on 12 March 2012 which will live long in the memory.
Prior to that most recent defeat, Arsenal had won eight consecutive games in a row against Newcastle, seven in the league and one in the FA cup.
And they, as with the TV commentators for the Brighton game, are noting how well Eddie is doing. As they say, “Nketiah continues to fill the boots of Jesus admirably and could record his 12th goal from his last 12 starts at the Emirates, despite only having 16 shots on target during that eyebrow-raising run.”
Actually, my eyebrows stayed in place, but then Untold has never been critical of Eddie.
But it is interesting to look back at earlier newspaper articles, where headlines such as Mikel Arteta reveals plan to replace ‘unique’ Arsenal star Gabriel Jesus from the Metro were all the rage for a while. These journalists! What scally-wags they are.
The Short Fuse were even more direct saying With Gabriel Jesus injury, Arsenal must sign an attacking player. while Give Me Sport went with Arsenal will ‘consider short-term signing’ after Gabriel Jesus setback
We shall of course see in time. But let us not forget that one way or another Arsenal have scored 40 goals this season, which only Manchester City have beaten with 44. Below them in the goal-scoring stakes are a cluster of four teams in the low 30s.
The team news from Newcastle according to Sports Mole is that Alexander Isak, Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Targett, Emil Krafth and Paul Dummett are “all unavailable for the top-of-the-table clash.” No one seems completely sure if Joe Willock will continue to play for Newcastle.
Which leaves Sports Mole giving us a line up of
White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;
Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli;
Which is exactly what the Evening Standard suggests although they change the format of the lineup slightly with
White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko;
Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka;
Saka, Nketiah, Martinelli.
Personally I think the Sports Mole version is closer to the mark. Odegaard does wander here there and everywhere but the best representation of this is putting him between and slightly deeper than Saka and Martinelli.
The BBC in their preview focus first on the negatives with the news (well, it’s not actually news) that “Bukayo Saka and William Saliba are both one booking from triggering a ban.”
Chris Sutton, writing for the Corporation’s website admits “I was wrong about both of these teams last time out – Newcastle were unlucky not to beat Leeds, but I was miles out when I said Arsenal would lose to Brighton, although the Gunners had to weather a storm at the end of the game.”
Which is good of him to admit a cock-up of mega proportions (he said Arsenal would lose, they won and scored four) but the “weather a storm” line is a bit much. All away teams that are winning get that treatment at the end of the a game.
As for this match, he adds, “Newcastle are well organised defensively, but Mikel Arteta’s side are so impressive going forward. Arsenal’s other two league games in January are against Tottenham (away) and Manchester United (home).
“At the end of this month we will have a much better idea about whether they can go the distance in the title race, but at the moment they look like they mean business.”
And from that point he predicts a 2-1 Arsenal victory. We are going along with a victory by a single goal as well, although that’s what we said before the Brighton game and look how that turned out.
Finally, here’s a nice find from the BBC: “Arsenal could equal the Premier League record of 29 clean sheets against a particular opponent, currently held by Manchester United against Tottenham.” It would be a shame to remove a Tottenham Hots record, but well, someone has to do it.
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