A trip to Newcastle on a rainy Saturday evening is a hood enough reason to be concerned. A dodgy start to the season for Eddie Howe’s team saw them lose three of their opening four games, however, since then, they’ve gone eight games without defeat. Ten games done, 26 goals scored, and the rags to riches club have recovered well. They have a number of players out or a doubt for this evenings fixture – Tonali is banned, Targett, Anderson and Murphy are injured whilst both Isak and Schar are doubts.
Arsenal are without Jurrien Timber of course, as well as Emile Smith Rowe, Gabriel Jesus and Thomas Partey. Take Timber out of the equation, the three others are no strangers to Arsenal’s injury list.
Arsenal’s last two away performances haven’t been the best. The League Cup performance against West Ham might have been attributed to the vast number of changes made by Mikel Arteta but at Stamford Bridge, there’s no excuse for such a poor first half. However, the fight back to earn a point cannot be ignored, nor can the impact Mikel Arteta’s substitutions had on the game. All five of them.
I’ve gone a bit ‘Ben White’ this season and no, I don’t mean I’ve bleached my hair white but I don’t watch much football other than Arsenal so I’ve no idea how Newcastle Utd play these days which is why I rely on Arsenal’s Adrian Clarke because at least then I’ve an idea of what to expect.
Eddie Howe is still deploying a 4-3-3 each week, but Newcastle’s attack has gone to the next level this season. Blessed with incredible pace, movement, and directness up top, a super-confident Magpies side has scored 26 goals in 10 matches, with Callum Wilson netting at a rate of one every 60 minutes. How we cope with Newcastle’s fast start will play a huge part in the outcome. The Magpies’ aggressive brand of football has seen them score seven times in the opening half-hour of games, with Aston Villa the only team to have netted more in that period. We must weather that storm.
Left winger Anthony Gordon has been clocked as one of the fastest players in the division, and his ball-carrying threat will certainly be a test for Ben White’s defensive skillset. Gordon has made 12 chances from ball carries, scoring twice from those runs, so that is a duel to look out for. Another will be between Gabriel Martinelli and Kieran Trippier. The Toon skipper’s pinpoint deliveries have created 31 chances (including six assists) this season, putting him joint-top of the rankings alongside James Maddison. Martinelli will have to track Trippier’s forward runs, but if he offers a threat with his sprints going the other way, it should force his marker to retreat.
Reading Clarke’s ‘blessed with incredible pace, movement, and directness up top” leaves me feeling kind of envious because it’s something we don’t really have. Martinelli is quick, as is Nelson but other than them, there’s not a lot of speedsters in our squad. That’s not a criticism by the way, it’s just not the way Mikel Arteta sets his team out. At least I don’t think it is. His teams are about passing, movement and a steady buildup. Admittedly, it bores me to tears sometimes and part of the reason I don’t watch an awful lot of of football. But that’s just me and I’m probably in the minority, after all, we’re doing pretty well so far this season by playing such a way.
I think Mikel Arteta could start Takehiro Tomiyasu this evening because defensively, he’s more reliable than Oleksandr Zinchenko. Again though, that’s just my opinion. With Gabriel Jesus out, it’s either Eddie Nketiah or a change of approach from Mikel Arteta, the height and strength of Kai Havertz, the finishing accuracy of Leandro Trossard or something totally different with Gabriel Martinelli moving central. I suspect it’ll be Nketiah. Martin Odegaard came off the bench against West Ham so one can assume he’ll start, as no doubt will Ben White, Gabriel, William Saliba, David Raya, Bukayo Saka and Declan Rice.
Newcastle Utd are bound to come out of the blocks quickly and try and take an early hold on the game. They’re the home team so it’s what one would expect. As Clarke says, Arsenal need to weather the early storm and then try and take control themselves. If Isak is fit, he’s a handful and by the sounds of it, so is Wilson this season and we all know Trippier can be a right pain in the backside.
Stuart Attwell is the man with the whistle today, his first Arsenal game since our Community Shield victory back in August. His assistants are:
- Assistants: Richard West, James Mainwaring
- Fourth official: Graham Scott
- VAR: Andy Madley
- Assistant VAR: Stuart Burt
Let’s hope for a good game with good officiating and a good result for Arsenal..
Catch up in the comments..