It’s All In Their Heads & Newcastle Preview

As Arsenal head north to St James’ Park, lots of talk of winning titles is in the air, a sure sign that Spring is about to be sprung. Sir Alex Ferguson has targetted ten more wins for his team, believing that will secure the title. Maths has never been his strong point because if Arsenal win twelve (and one of those is over United), they will be crowned Champions in May.

Meanwhile, Gaël Clichy has been talking of his “obsession with silverware“. He is completely obsessed by it because the conversation is almost the same that he had in October of last year; that qualifies as an obsession. Before any amateur psychologists go ranting on about kleptomania, I suspect it is more of a driving force in his life that he be remembered as a winner, or part of a winning team.

That will not apply to Nicklas Bendter though. He will believe that anything won is down to him, even if he has not been on the pitch. Equally confident is Wojciech Szczesny, perhaps even more ruthless than he is given credit for. The Pole has probably progressed more this season than he expected, opportunities arising and he has seized them,

I am ambitious and I want to be No1…I have been in the squad for every game since, although I know it’s a coincidence because Manu [Almunia] got injured

And have been first choice since Lukasz Fabianski was injured – there is a theme here, one for the conspiracy theorists, or Radio 5Live listeners as they are more commonly known.

Szczesny received the praise of Jens Lehmann earlier this week, which was typically back-handed although truthful,

He has got everything he needs apart from the experience and the maturity, so he needs to work hard

It is something Szczesny is aware of but his thoughts on meeting Barcelona and the latter stages of the season sum up the improvement at Arsenal this season,

We are a much better team than we were last year. Every single player is a year older and a year better. We are a bunch of confident guys and this year, there is no psychological barrier

Back to this afternoon. Newcastle has been a reasonably lucky ground for Arsène with his teams only suffering two defeats, 2-4 in 2000 and 0-1 in 2005. That said, it is no guarantee of victory as there have been seven draws and six wins in his other visits. Wenger has brought his side to this part of the North East twice previously in February, twice returning home with a 1-1 draw in the bag.

The form book suggests an away win. Arsenal have won their last six games and since losting at Old Trafford, are unbeaten in the Premier League. In contrast, Newcastle have not won for a month, including being knocked out of the FA Cup by Stevenage, and have won only two of the last six at St James’ Park.

Their home form is not spectacular this season twelve games shared equally between wins, draws and defeats. Arsenal have taken eight more points away from home than today’s hosts have won at home. The best away record in the Premier League is coming to town and on paper, there is no reason to believe that it won’t improve.

Except football is not played on paper. Arsenal have mixed injury news; Theo Walcott has returned to the squad but Alex Song joins Denilson and Nasri on the sidelines. The latter, alongside Vermaelen, are the only two first team regulars who are missing for substantial lengths of time. Song was rated as “70:30” by the manager for this game so his thigh injury sustained in the win over Everton was not as bad as was feared.

He has not made the trip to Tyneside though and I suspect the line-up Arsène will go with is,

Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Fàbregas, Diaby, Wilshere; Walcott, van Persie, Arshavin

Three points is necessary to keep the pressure on United. Despite Wolves decent home record this season, I still expect the current leaders to have too much for them. Any slip by them needs an Arsenal win to capitalise on it.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. ’til Tomorrow.

709 thoughts on “It’s All In Their Heads & Newcastle Preview

  1. Bibin says:

    Wow what a day. First you guys drew , then Man U finally lost. So everyone looks like is very much back in title race.

    Agreed that it was quite some stupid refereeing. Why he gave the third penalty, I still have no idea. I thought Wenger also should take some blame. Diaby is you holding midfielder. So when he was sent off, he should have immediately brought in Eboue and moved Sagna to the midfield. That never happened and that means the defense was exposed to continous wave of attack.

  2. Antony says:

    I think that someone like Chamakh should’ve been brought on instead of Rosicky. He would’ve helped us defend set pieces and crosses and would’ve held up the ball.

    Today we saw the best and worst of Arsenal…… but we lose a 4 goal advantage and find ourselves one place closer to the league leaders….. such is the irony of football.

  3. Dgob says:

    Darius @ 5:39 and all those who shared your views,

    Fecking excellent! I was dreading going on line this morning and intended to state precisely what you (and Arsene) have stated. Let’s not forget that PV4 was not unaccustomed to the occasional early bath. As for Dowd….

    Yet a few hours later, ManUre drop all three points and things are not as bad as they seemed. OK those chasing get a step nearer but they will ALL draw games in the future and given the officiating, we should be glad we ended up with a point!

    Still unbeaten and a valuable lesson about self control learned by our young stars. The future aint shite the future’s red and white.

    COYG

  4. Kevin says:

    @COYG:
    A draw likes this will crash our players confidence, although MU drop points. “Diablo” is not our young star, at least after last match, very unprofessional, un-brained player. He totally ruined all team efforts. To be honest, I really don’t want to see this guy in our shirt any more (I think Prof is thinking the same).

    Clichy & Squillacy was very low performance an out of position
    Rosicky seems to be over the edge now.

    Hope that we will not be broken from this incident.

  5. Joshua says:

    Bibin…

    That’s “monday morning quarter backing” that you’re doing there. Sagna isn’t a midfielder, that’s one thing. The second thing is that IMHO Arsenal’s problems were in part because we stopped playing our normal possession football. The balance of the teams mentality was already too negative and too defensive once Abou went off so an ultra defensive substitution wouldn’t have been ideal either IMHO.

    Wenger made his decisions and we lost a 4 goal lead so anyone and everyone can feel entitled to have a go… for me Phil Dowd changed the match… by allowing Joey Barton’s tackle on Diaby he signalled to the Arsenal players that they’d get no protection from him; by allowing Nolan to drag Sczceny to the ground he signalled that he’d give Newcastle leeway to do almost as they pleased; and by awarding the very first penalty he signalled to the Arsenal players that they’d be punished heavily for the merest infraction. That is the mood that Dowd set in the match in the second half…. imagine being an Arsenal player in that kind of environment? Dowd and no one else cost us the 2 points.

    If Dowd were applying the rules of the game strictly and evenly to both sides no one would complain… if he sent off Diaby then Nolan too had to go. It’s that simple. If the first penalty is a penalty then Joey Barton shouldn’t have been on the pitch. The second penalty was a total joke and given that Nolan had already stamped on Diaby previously it just makes the whole thing so thoroughly unpalatable.

    Monday morning coaching is the prerogative of every fan but as an actual and sensible contribution there’s nothing that suggest moving Sagna into midfield was either a good or even practicable idea. Sagna can play at CB or RB or, even at a pinch, at LB but being a midfielder is a rather different job description. I don’t see how moving him into midfield given the resources at the manager’s disposal was a better idea that what was actually done TBH.

  6. Ole Gunner says:

    Can anyone conform the rumour I picked up on Twitter which says that the odds on Newcastle were suddenly slashed yesterday lunchtime?

    How can I verify this was true?

    If it was it could be a sign of matchfixing.

  7. goonerwife says:

    The boys are going to have to try and win this inspite of the refs. I’ve known this for a few years now. No worries, they need to spit in the face of this bullsh*t and win.

  8. Bibin says:

    Joshua :
    My sugggestion of Sagna came after looking into your substituition bench. You didn’t have anyone to replace the holding midfielder. Whom of Sagna and Eboue would I prefer to play the holding midfielder role – definitely Sagna. Eboue will not give me the assurances in challenges like Sagna does. I do agree that he is not accustomed to play that role but then he was the closest option Wenger had. I would have taken that.

    Definitely agreed on the lack of possession play. But that comes very precisely because of you don’t have a ball winner in the midfield. You naturally didn’t have anyone to cut off the moves in the midfield. Cesc, Theo, Rosisky, Wilshire etc is not natural ball winners. They need some one like Diaby. Sagna could have given you that cover. He may not be the ideal choice there but he was the best option available. That would have naturally resulted in better possession. Barcelona and Arsenal has a somewhat similiar style and in that style you cannot play without a holding midfielder for not even five minutes.

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