If nothing else, Arsenal’s match against Newcastle will fill a couple of hours before the big one later. No, not Liverpool v Man Utd, Line of Duty. For anyone who’s been watching the series over the last few years, you’ll know what I’m on about and share my excitement ahead of tonight’s big reveal. Just who is ‘H’?
As far as this fixture goes, it certainly means more to Newcastle Utd than it does to Arsenal. The only thing on offer for Mikel Arteta’s team isa bit of pride. With Villarreal just a few days away, I’d like to think the Spaniard will give his key players a rest. There’s absolutely no reason for Saka, ESR, Partey, Holding, Xhaka – or anyone who’s in line to start on Thursday, to play this lunchtime. The clubs below Newcastle in the League might not like it should Arteta field a much changed team but that’s too bad. Arsenal’s eggs are in one Europa Cup basket now and even that one looks like it has a hole in it.
With just five League fixtures left to go, thank goodness, why not use them to give squad/academy players some minutes on the pitch. Players such as Nelson, Nketiah, Lopez, Azeez, Balogun, Ryan and Ceballos as he’s banned for Thursday anyway. I actually feel for Nelson because as far as his career goes, he’s wasted five months of his footballing life I think. In hindsight he should have gone out on loan in January, as should Nketiah really because all they’ve really done is train with the odd appearance for the under 23’s. Of course I don’t mean start all of them at once but have them on the bench as well as two or three in the starting eleven. If nothing else, they might attract attention from other clubs.
As far as injuries go, have been in contention to play on Thursday, Alex Lacazette is unavailable for today’s fixture, Kieran Tierney faces a late fitness test but David Luiz is ready to play and I think he will, alongside side Gabriel I reckon.
The Newcastle player to watch out for is Allan Saint-Maximin as he’s one quality player who I’d love to see in an Arsenal shirt. He’s powerful, strong, quick and dangerous when Newcastle break away on a counter attack. The statistics tell us that Newcastle are a team who like to allow the opposition much of the possession so it’s fair to say Arsenal will be against a defensive setup which Mikel Arteta’s team often struggles against. Sometimes it just takes a route one ball over the top of a defence to make the breakthrough and if Luiz starts, he’ll certainly not be afraid to try that. Hopefully it’ll be Balogun he’s looking for and/or Nelson, our very own speedster.
The last five League fixtures, although mean very little as far as the season goes, do mean something as far as finances go. The higher up the table Arsenal finish, the more money they earn. The difference between tenth and eighth last year was around £20 million although I’ve no idea if it’ll be similar this year after a Covid hit season. For money reasons alone, Arsenal need to push hard to win these final few fixtures but today, as far as team selection goes, I really hope Thursday is in Mikel Arteta’s mind.
See you in the comments.