Can Arsenal again put Newcastle to the sword? A preview…


There was a long stretch last season when Newcastle felt like an impregnable fortress, a Death Star in the making, as they amassed the fewest losses in the Prem and the most draws on their way to finishing fourth. There was heady talk of them rising from the ashes, of restoring Newcastle to some semblage of its former glory, and there was not any talk at all of sportswashing of the entirely benevolent Saudi Public Investment Fund. All hail Krull and his glorious new regime. The sportswashing and success have sputtered ever so slightly, but that doesn’t mean that we can waltz into St. James’s Park unawares.

Even if Newcastle’s season has stumbled out of the gates, what with two losses and three draws already, we’ll have to be at our best. Even with their injury crisis rivalling if not eclipsing our own, we’ll have to be at our best. This fixture has to stand as one of the sternest tests of our mettle. Even if Newcastle will be without Barnes, Isak, Botman, Andersen, Murphy, Targett, and Tonali, they went into Old Trafford and thrashed those devils 0-3. Even if thrashing Man U is trending these days, we’ll have to be at our best. Enough anaphora.

Let’s spare a thought for Tonali, served with a ten-month ban for gambling. If one man could tarnish the reputation of an entire country, he’s done it. To this point and down through the annals of history, Italy has stood as a lighthouse, a shining beacon of morality and stability in an otherwise crass, cynical, and corrupt world. The mere suggestion of unsavory behavior would stand as an affront to the collective conscience. If you can’t trust an Italian footballer to be pure as the driven snow, well, then, what’s left? This might very well be the first-ever example of scandalous behavior on the part of anyone involved in Italian football, and I am sure that it will be the last.

One player to watch amidst Newcastle’s injury-crisis (and moral ambivalence) will be one of our own, one Joe Willock. He shined against Man U, scoring the third goal. Will he see this fixture as a chance to show his boyhood club what it’s been missing? It’s an increasingly pertinent question given that he’d play where the uneven Havertz and ever-injured Smith Rowe play. I won’t go so far as to suggest that we should have held onto Willock, but we’d be wise to be wary. Enough alliteration already.

For ourselves, we have to hope that the disappointment of losing away to West Ham midweek fuels our fire. We were far from our best, and that’s putting it mildly. It was equal parts poor squad selection and poor performance on the pitch (dammit, alliteration…). Having rested key players like Rice, Saliba, Saka, Martinelli, and Ødegaard, we should go into St. James’s Park fresh and fiesty, not to mention with something to prove after suffered our first loss of consequence. If we can come away with a draw, I’ll be satisfied. If we can come away with a win, I’ll be ecstatic.

At a risk of being presumptuous, I’d assume that Arteta will restore Raya after Ramsdale’s uneven display against West Ham, with Zinchenko, Magalhães, Saliba, and White ahead of him. I suspect that we’ll see RIce, Jorginho, and Ødegaard reprise the roles they played in the 1-0 defeat over Man City, with Martinelli and Saka either side of Nketiah (the safe choice) or Havertz (my preference).

If I may be so bold, I think such a lineup would be strong enough to see us escape with a 0-1 or even 0-2 result. What say you? Share your predictions in the comments-section below!

Average rating 4.3 / 5. Vote count: 26

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

4 thoughts on “Can Arsenal again put Newcastle to the sword? A preview…

  1. jw1

    With Newcastle second in goals scored in the first 30-minutes, it’s imperative we play with a nod to controlling the flow of the game. Not unlike our match versus City, keeping the opposition out of areas of threat should be the priority. With that, and that Zinny started midweek (and did not cover himself with glory) — expect we’ll see Tomi starting in the inverted LB role. Also expect Kai in the 8, leaving Eddie up top.

    It’s going to be a tight, physical game, and predicted to be a cold, wet slog. These are the games where mental toughness can make a difference. That’s not a quality that can be instilled in a pregame talk. Each player has to individually find the fortitude, stay focused and switched-on– when every element seemingly is set to a hard level of difficulty.

    Not to mention– the whole world of football fans– will be watching the only PL game being broadcast– on a Saturday morning/afternoon/evening in about 6-hours.

    No pressure. No pressure at all.

  2. Jon Shay Post author

    Good points, all. Here’s where we’ll see whether resting key players midweek pays off. Odegaard did look better during his short cameo than he’s looked in some time; and we’ll have to hope that Good Eddie Nketiah shows up. Those who slated his play against West Ham overlook the lack of service he got from the midfield. Rice will surely offer more control in the middle than Jorginho could.

    Even if injuries to Newcastle offer some advantage on paper, I would be quite content with a draw.


Leave a Reply