I know we often hear Mikel Arteta say how important the fans are and he’s right of course because any stadium is a horrid place for footballers and the manager to be when fans don’t believe in what they’re seeing. Arsenal fans had years of being frustrated, angry even, because on the pitch, so much was going wrong. As talked about yesterday, Tottenham are struggling under Conte, Chelsea under Potter and they’re not the only ones. Gerrard has already been sacked this season, Moyes is fast becoming the favourite to be next whilst both Southampton and Wolves manager’s must be wondering if or indeed when, they’ll be looking for a new job.
Football seems to be simple, lose the fans support, lose your job.
I want to thank the fans. Even today, you can see their support and them coming out on New Year’s Eve. They’re probably not going to get home until the New Year so they might miss that and their families, but it shows that Arsenal means everything to them, and it means everything to us, so let’s just continue to keep doing this.
New Years Eve, a 180 mile round trip from north London to Brighton and a later kickoff but that wasn’t going to stop the away fans from making the journey in order to support the club they love. I’m sure Bukayo Saka isn’t the only player who appreciates it. It’s a two way thing, always. Arsenal aren’t getting results for any other reason than they deserve it because of the way Mikel Arteta has his team playing.
Tonight we take on Newcastle Utd who under Eddie Howe and a bit of money, are doing well. Howe is another good young coach who did really well at Bournemouth with a limited budget so it’s no great surprise to see them where they are on the League table. Without the fixture pileup European football brings with it, Newcastle must be one of the favourites to finish in the top four this season. They are still competing for the League Cup though, the FA Cup too of course.
Newcastle have five players missing through injury: Isak, Shelvey, Targett, Dummett and Krafth.
Arsenal have just the one, Gabriel Jesus. Emile Smith Rowe is back in training which is great news.
The one to stop appears to be Miguel Almirón who has nine goals to his name this season. Another is Joe Willock who Eddie Howe has been raving about and who will be out to get one over the manager who sold him.
I’ve been really pleased with Joe. He is maturing nicely and I think he has really good, raw ability. He’s very athletic, got an eye for goal, technically very good and tactically he is improving. He has been excellent for me, I have forged a good relationship with him and I really like him as a person. The big thing with Joe is I think there is a lot more in there as well, there is a lot more to come. I’m excited about his future.
Well, I hope he has a bad night tonight but even if he does, Newcastle have enough quality in the team to hurt us if we’re not focussed.
I’m looking forward to seeing who wins the midfield battle out of Thomas Partey and Bruno Guimaraes. Kieran Trippier v Gabriel Martinelli and Almirón against either Ben White or Kieran Tierney/Oleksandr Zinchenko depending on which side of the pitch he plays. With Targett ruled out, it’s likely that Bukayo Saka will be up against Dan Burn if Howe’s last two team selection’s are anything to go by.
Apart from Sven Botman, Newcastle’s back line is getting on a bit. If any attacking unit has the legs and ability to cause them big problems, it’s the young, energetic, talented and in form Arsenal’s.
This is a real test for Mikel Arteta’s group of players. People out there are starting to believe Arsenal are for real this season. Jamie Carragher, whilst berating his old club, actually muttered the words ‘I hope Arsenal win the League’. Who’d have thought eh….
Catch up in the comments.