I’ve lost count of the number of times me and the lad have trudged down the c.200 steps from Level 7 to Barrack Road in virtual silence, numb and disillusioned at having just witnessed yet another soulless, goalless draw.
Despite the initial disappointment, Monday was not another of those occasions.
Leeds celebrated their point in the way we did so often under Bruce, and dare I say it his predecessor – and despite my blood pressure reaching dangerous levels at their shithouse tactics during the game, in the cold light of day I didn’t begrudge them their point on a day when too many of our team left their shooting boots at hyem.
Newcastle United at St James’ Park are now the away trip no team wants, and any opponents venturing up Barrack Road will approach their visit a mentality and approach that refelects the fact that escaping with a draw will be one of the results of the season for them.
Monday was always going to happen – it was just a case of when, and we had an off day.
Tuesday will be totally different.
Arsenal have been outstanding this season – Arteta has pulled together and formed a young, hungry, highly organised set of players with a clear footballing Identity and has moulded them into a team to be feared…sounds very familiar doesn’t it?
Astonishingly though, I have seen and heard a lot of Mag’s writing this one off – I’ve even heard the phrase “Inevitable loss”? Where were these doom mongering Mags When Man City escaped from St James’ with a fortuitous point, when Man Utd left the Old Trafford pitch counting their lucky stars that Joelinton missed neck day at the gym, or when Spurs and Chelsea had their respective arses handed to them by Eddie Mags?
Fuck off with that mentality man.
I have every confidence that if there is a team that can truly test Arteta’s men, it will be the one that will be led out in Black and White by (the not suspended) Kieran Trippier tomorrow night.
In Bruno, Almiron, Wilson, Joelinton and possibly Maxi we have players that will test Saliba, White & Co., and if there is a Premier League back 5 that is more capable of shackling Arsenals attacking threat than our own Black and White wall, I am yet to see it.
So, why the negativity? I suspect it is borne out of year after year of heading back from N7 with our tail between our legs. 11 defeats on the spin, 31 goals conceded (the last 15 unanswered) and only 5 for?
When looking at the stats, trust me, I get it…but this isn’t a Championship standard Newcastle United heading down to the Emirates under the stewardship of Pardew, Carver, McClaren, Bruce, or even Rafa Benitez – this is a Champions League standard Newcastle United heading to the smoke under the tutelage of Edward John Frank Howe.
The players and manager believe, we owe it to them to do the same.
Lee Forster @LeeDForster
Saturday afternoon was frustrating, yes, but in the cold light of day I haven’t felt as happy as I did at St James’ for a very long time. A team to be proud of who would run through brick walls for the black and White shirt.
Some world class players, who I wouldn’t have dreamt would have played for us a year and a half ago and the best defence in living memory, playing in front of an electric atmosphere. Leeds came and got what they wanted and did what we did for five years, defended for their lives, showed no ambition and celebrated like they’d won the World Cup. I suppose we should take it as a compliment.
All that was missing was the final pass, finish or a little bit of luck. I’ve saw us play a lot worse and win this season.
The games come thick and fast though and Tuesday night sees us go to leaders Arsenal in a real acid test. This could go either way.
Either it’s a game too far for us and we realign our ambitions on the back of it, or we provide another masterclass of defending and totally annul a fluent, young, quick Arsenal attack. Odegaard is the key for them. Everything goes through him, and Bruno will most likely have to turn back to the defensive midfield holding player he was at Lyon for the night.
Arsenal are dangerous but let no one tell you (everyone will) they are better than us. I think from Howe and Tindall through to Wilson and Joelinton, this is the games they really do relish.
But my aims for Tuesday are really built on the defence. Arsenal will have to be really good to get past that lot, even if suspensions or injuries kick in.
I completely trust us to get something going on that. We will have to be clinical at the other end with Wilson a vital starter.
I’m going for us to score very early before conceding and then defending for an hour like our life’s depend on it. 1-1
On we go then with 2023 and let’s face it, there is no better place to start.
At the start of the season, who would have thought this fixture would be a top of the table clash?
Yes, the 0-0 draw with Leeds was disappointing, but we’re still top 4 and we travel to north London with every right to expect something from this game.
The ability of our midfield to dominate matches is vital to the way we play, and Leeds did extremely well to stifle Bruno for spells. Do Arsenal have the personnel to do the same, though? Both managers favour a 4-3-3 so we will be going toe to toe with them in what should be a thrilling encounter.
All over the pitch are potentially intriguing battles: Arsenal’s free-scoring forwards are about to meet the league’s meanest defence, while Miggy and Wilson will surely fancy their chances against the Gunners’ more porous back line. Almiron should have Zinchenko on toast while Wilson will relish taking on Gabriel and Saliba.
The way Arsenal imperiously brushed aside Brighton was cause for concern, but the Seagulls were missing their lynchpin Caicedo. We should prove a tougher test for the title challengers – and who knows, if we’re on our game we might prove too tough a test for them.
Dan Jenkins @PlumsGinger