Newcastle Preview: The Gauntlet Has Been Laid Down, Will Arsenal Pick It Up?

sArsenal travel to Tyneside looking for three points to put a happier slant on the inconsistent and disappointing start to the season. They do so by looking to the past; it’s been a decade since Arsenal lost this fixture, despite have a damned good go at it by dropping a four-goal lead in 2011. Curiously enough, this morning’s playlist is Beatiful Stranger (Redux), the expanded reissue of the original, all of which can be found on Dad’s Jukebox, in the right sidebar or in the archives.

A testing week draws to a close for Arsène, finding out that the last word in an argument always goes to the pundit with the gauntlet well and truly laid down by Mr Neville,

If this is my Alan Hansen moment then nobody will be more pleased than me. I would be delighted to see Arsenal disprove my criticisms of their playing style by winning the Premier League. But to do so they will have to defy history. Arsenal are a great football club with an illustrious history. Roll your eye down the list of league champions, though, and you see, in every instance, ingredients that are Arsenal are running low on.

The Liverpool teams of the 1970s and 80s; all the Manchester United sides of the 1990s and 2000s, the Arsenal XI of Petit and Vieira and Jose Mourinho’s first Chelsea team of Frank Lampard, Michael Essien and Claude Makelele. The Manchester City of Kompany, De Jong, Yaya Toure. You see power, character and a winning urge.

There are no exceptions to this rule. I could even go back to the good Everton teams of the mid-1980s to illustrate the point that championships are not won by a front six who are blessed with great technical skill but lack a counter-balance of big personalities, big characters, power and pace.

Today is the first step in answering that criticism. Arsène, the coaching staff and players are all staring down the barrels of a great “I told you so” the minute the title becomes impossible, followed by a media inquisition which will have Tomás de Torquemada glowing with approval. Defiance in the face of the media comes at a price and this may well be a far heavier millstone for Wenger to carry than a trophyless decade. It’s a spat that he can only win by delivering the title although the Champions League will suffice as a viable alternative. Indignation is all well and good but in this case, his opponent – the media generally – has a vindictiveness where only absolutes count.

The timing of it and this afternoon’s opponents could hardly be worse. Newcastle; the barcodes. Petr Cech is the only shopping Arsène has done this summer and the question marks remain over his forward line. Olivier Giroud, in football terms, has scored once since Noah built the Ark whilst Theo Walcott’s promise as a central striker has yet to be given an opportunity to flourish. It is a tricky decision for Wenger; this is a fixture in which Giroud has enjoyed good returns previously, even in a misfiring team. Whether he retains faith in Monday’s XI is the key; the attack created but drew a blank and Arsenal cannot afford dropped points today. No matter what anyone says, anything other than victory at St James Park is a bad result.

Incredibly, Arsène is trying to blame the stuttering start to the season on players returning late to the fold,

I think we are ready to play 90 minutes but maybe it’s normal as well that after two or three games, you are not completely at 100 per cent. That comes slowly. We have started late and as well some players, like Alexis, have come in on August 3 and are not completely there.

That is as baffling a statement as Cantona wittering on about seagulls. How can a manager claim his players “started late” when there hasn’t been an international tournament for all bar two of them? It’s a staggering admission, one that raises serious questions over his pre-season preparations; why weren’t the majority of the squad at 100%? This was no different to other years so why weren’t the players ready? It’s been a bad week for Wenger on and off the pitch.

Time to put at least one of them right. With Per Mertesacker ruled out and Laurent Koscielny doubtful, Wenger has to rely on Gabriel and Chambers once again. The horrors of the first half behind them, the partnership got to work in the second against Liverpool. Chambers was rightly criticised for his opening forty-five minutes but it was a more an issue with his distribution, sloppily ceding possession in dangerous places.

That improved and with his confidence growing, his reading of the game grew. It helped that the rest of the team weren’t as timid and worked harder in a dominant second half performance. Arsenal will need that level to be reached from kick-off as a baying local crowd can inspire Newcastle as we saw last season as they sought to retrieve the two-goal deficit; a mix of assured and desperate defending saw three points return south on that occasion. The same outcome is needed today and with the international break awaiting, performance is not so important.

Newcastle emerged with a point from last weekend’s trip to Old Trafford and I am sure that will imbue some confidence but let’s not forget how poor United are. Even so, there was a defensive strength that today’s hosts will draw on and having taken just one point from their opening two games, that followed by a comfortable League Cup win, has added some pep to their step.

And the smothering defensive tactic is a reason I would start Walcott up front. As visitors, Arsenal expect to face an aggressive start to the match but that will change if the defence faces a player who is more than capable of exploiting a high line. Will his pace force them to defend deeper than they may have prepared for in the belief Giroud will start? I am not sure Arsène cares much for that; as Thierry Henry has said this morning, Wenger’s belief in the squad is total and his faith in Giroud almost unshakeable.

For that reason alone, I think the only change to Monday will be if Koscielny comes back, a huge risk given the manager’s comments earlier in the week. Even so, it’s still a game Arsenal can, should and must, win. Anything less may see a seven-point gap at the top, with City fast approaching the point where, from Arsenal’s point of view, they will be uncatchable. Time to pick up Neville’s gauntlet, gentlemen.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

287 thoughts on “Newcastle Preview: The Gauntlet Has Been Laid Down, Will Arsenal Pick It Up?

  1. poodle says:

    jeez why does my spelling program always turn bellerin into ballerina??

  2. C says:

    Yea Newcastle fouled quite a bit, but I think Mariner has gone yellow card crazy today to be quite honest.

    I will applaud Newcastle though because they have fought and defended well and will certainly feel like a draw would have been a fair result and they were extremely unlucky. Though surely that penalty would have changed the match.

  3. viceologist says:

    Well…3 points is 3 points I guess…still yet to put in any kind of convincing performance.

  4. Wavey says:

    3 points, but awful. Still no signs that this team can do anything.

  5. Colts says:

    Indeed poodle indeed. Really starting to miss Jack.

    One nil to the arse,

    So many questions.

  6. andy1886 says:

    Three points, not much else you can say about that really.

  7. Colts says:

    Indeed poodle indeed. Really starting to miss Jack.

    One nil to the arse, better than manure 🙂

  8. C says:

    I think my commentator got it spot on about Giroud:

    “He isn’t a clinical striker but gets quite a few chances and I understand why Arsenal supporters get frustrated with him.”

    As he was saying that, Giroud gets played through and hits it right a Krull. HAHAHAHHAHAHA Krull is MOTM according to NBC in the states.

  9. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    Staggeringly shite. To many players trying to find form, no inspiration or creativity. Surely it can only get better.

  10. consolsbob says:

    Three points it what a dull game to watch.

    Is this what we can expect this season?

  11. C says:

    I wouldn’t bet on Jack, he can’t stay fit but let me also say this about Jack, yes he has moments but he is widely inconsistent.

  12. G4E says:

    I think the New Castle fans, manger, and players have each other to blame, not the referee. They went about making stupid and unnecessary fouls.

    We on the other hand, we did not give it our all. Maybe we didn’t have to, 3 points with basically no effort.

    We move on, nothing to waste time on or discuss.

    Nice weekend to All.

  13. Wavey says:

    “Underwhelming, but perhaps crucial victory for Arsenal”. Sounds about right.

  14. C says:

    @Bob

    If we play dull and win the PL then I wouldn’t mind. Problem is, we can’t score goals at home (5 of last 6 matches we have failed to score a goal at the Emirates off of a staggering 103 shot) and away from home we can’t keep relying on own goals to save us.

  15. Colts says:

    He should have confidence in this team, it’s a very good squad. On paper.
    Arsene seems to be struggling to get them to their own level let alone performing beyond like Dortmund or athletico.
    These players should know each other’s games inside out but they don’t. They should also be raring to go after flapping their gums all summer.
    It’s not a mystery. It’s arsene.

  16. SV says:

    3 points I suppose.

    No real urge to score a second was strange, and Giroud not taking his chance at the end was funny.

  17. Colts says:

    I never thought we’d do the title this year, but thought we’d be close. Just a shame that so early it’s about ‘Not out of the title yet’ as opposed to ‘they mean business this year’.

  18. viceologist says:

    Maybe we will come back after the break with clear heads…maybe they can all go on an ayahuasca retreat and sort their heads out…lol.

  19. Colts says:

    Retreat. Lol.
    That’s been our problem in so many ways.

  20. Birdkamp says:

    Early red often make games awkward, especially in away matches. I thought we did the right thing by being patient and pulling them left and right. What made it look difficult was the finishing from Theo, AOC and others. Penalty would have helped too.

    Still, good to get our match out of the way and see what happens by Monday. If we haven’t signed anyone come Monday night it won’t happen at all, as the window closes earlier in Europe this time.

  21. Birdkamp says:

    AW made a fair point about Theo. Before the red the match was made for him as Newcastle were pushing up.

    Afterwards it was absolutely not the sort of situation in which he thrives.

  22. Ras says:

    Just in I see we won but not a convincing performance…

  23. C says:

    @Big Al

    That’s why I hope we see that front 3 again but this time with Ozil pulling the strings.

  24. C says:

    So West Ham have scored and 1-0 on Liverpool.

  25. poodle says:

    I guess Theo is not an all round striker. He thrives under very spescific conditions. And ones they are gone he just gloriously falls through. Giroud on the other hand is your jack of all trades, master of non. A great allrounder but not really the best in anything.

    I guess we could do with another specialist or a even better allrounder.

    Or the new Aguero. Though i doubt we will find him in two days….

  26. poodle says:

    but hey, we won, it could have been worse, we could have played shit and lost. At lest we only played shit and won 🙂

  27. Phil says:

    Should have been 2-0 with the penalty.
    We have plenty of work to do though.

  28. C says:

    Shitty set to unveil De Bruyne at half time.

  29. C says:

    Lets not also forget that in the opening moments, Ramsey had a simple pass to make that would have put Ox through who if he would habe squared it Theo would have had an easy tap in but Ramsey cocked up the pass.

  30. andy1886 says:

    I have to say our new signing ‘Cohesion’ has been rather crap to date, about time we made a bid for that chap ‘Ambition’.

  31. C says:

    @poodle

    I think Theo offers more than was shown today. The team was shit so that didn’t help. We saw against Chavs in the Community Shield and the rest of last season that he has more to his game, he can recieve turn and run, we all know he can create or make the right pass.

  32. Brevity says:

    Well, nice result. We should of got more but 3 points is 3 points. Not sure if we played well, I’ll have to see what the media say.

  33. viceologist says:

    Nice to see West Ham out playing Liverpool…Watford holding out against City.

  34. C says:

    I see Calum Wilson scored another goal for Bournemouth.

  35. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Difficult to judge how good todays performance was.

    We probably played better against 11 than 10 but we were pretty slow again in possession.

    It`s certainly a fact that there was little space behind for Theo but he still didn`t do enough IMO & neither he nor Giroud seem to have that ability to hold off a defender & link in the final third which is why the midfield players look so reluctant to play through them.

    As for new signings , I think Arsene`s `we are out there trying` smirk says it all. Nada , zilch , cock all.

  36. Birdkamp says:

    C, yes I think there will always be days when that sort of attack is a good idea. I’d take it away to a lot of away games.

    Yikes, in two years at Anderlecht Mitrovic got 20 bookings and two reds. Then you add the two yellows before today, both of which could easily have been red.

  37. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Missed the game once again today. From what i’m reading it was unconvincing, but 3 points is more than Man U got against them isn’t it. We desperately need a CF and CDM to allow Coq rest, but seems like Wenger is once again going into a season unprepared.

    Hmmm….

  38. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Reading that Gabriel had another good game….He’s looking like he could force his way into the team, his pace and strength are quite impressive, perhaps a blessing that he’s getting to play more and used to pace and speed of the league.

  39. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Liverpool losing, Cheslea losing…..Not a bad day for us in all honesty

  40. Phil says:

    Still waiting for Gabriel to make his first mistake.
    He is very impressive.

  41. Jonny says:

    MOTD is going to be an intriguing watch (excepting our match).

    Plenty of reds and yellows and a 2 big upsets on the cards.

    5 mins extra time at The Stamford Shithole though.

  42. Birdkamp says:

    Tough league this season. Any side can beat any other, apart from Man City.

  43. Birdkamp says:

    Would be great if these are Mourinho’s last weeks as Chelsea manager. Third season is when things start to break down behind the scene, and this won’t help.

  44. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Jose’s problem has always been the same, when he starts losing he doesn’t cope well with it and tends to bury himself with silly comments and placing the blame in other people. Perhaps losing to Wenger broke his mental strength haha

  45. andy1886 says:

    You may not like the bloke but Pardew is a terrific manager. The first one to beat Jose three times in the PL.

  46. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Pardew was treated so harshly by Newcastle and their fans. Always thought he was a good manager he’s done well. Liverpool were dire, really pissed that Ramseys goal didn’t stand now and we’d be 3 above manu and 2 behind City.

    City’s problem similar to us though, they’ll always go through periods of bad results.

  47. C says:

    @Big Al

    I would take that arttack too, especially when we on the counter with the way Sanchez and Ox track back.

  48. C says:

    @Big Al

    You have a point regarding Mourinho, he has a track record of winning either the respe tive League he is in or CL and then it all goes to shit.

  49. C says:

    Just saw an even more alarming stat, Mitrovic has now gone 5 consecutive years with a straight red card for challenges like that. Quality young but already has a nasty reputation.

  50. Harry says:

    Seems the blogosphere is backtracking on their assessment of our start based on results in the league today.
    How fickle we are.

  51. Phil says:

    Chelsea away at Everton next. Tricky.

  52. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Chelsea could do what we did last season, fall away right at the start and hand City the league. City have brought in the right players to get some results.

  53. C says:

    All things consider, the results of today were good.

  54. Phil says:

    Just need to be topped up with a Spuds loss

  55. C says:

    @Harry

    I don’t think anybody is back tracking, the 3 points is always a great thing, its the performance and toothlessness is what everybody is getting on about.

  56. Phil says:

    Player ratings on Daily Mail.
    You would think the Barcodes won.
    What an idiot

  57. Phil says:

    I think it’s more a sense of relief that despite our average performance, we were rewarded with not just 3 points, but results elsewhere being beneficial to some degree

  58. MikeSA says:

    Anyone watching the spuds game?

    On around 32 mins, Kane on the far touch line battling to get to the ball and falls on it, tried to grab it and then took a kick out at the Everton player who got the ball.

    That should be a yellow for the hand ball and a red for violent conduct but f-all said!!!!

  59. MikeSA says:

    Scissor tackle on Cleverly but apparently that’s fine as well?

  60. C says:

    @Mike

    Yea I’m watching it, funny how neither Spud got a yellow but both should have seen red.

  61. Wavey says:

    Wow, results really went our way today. A little break coming up and perhaps the players will come back a little more focussed, particularly at the attacking end of the pitch. Defence did their job well today. I guess I was thinking there was a chance the bar codes would nick a goal, but they never looked close. If LeCoq picks up an injury we are in trouble.

  62. Phil says:

    Early diagnosis is a busted ankle.
    Was a free kick paid?

  63. Phil says:

    Just saw the replay. He got the ball, but.
    Definitely not a red. Yellow? Maybe.

  64. Phil says:

    And there would have been the second yellow

  65. arse110 says:

    Not quite getting the Ramsey hate…thought that he covered a lot of ground well today and created a team high of 5 chances…also forced a good save from Krul and should have had an assist for that Giroud sitter.

    Thought Coquelin was very good today and forced the red card (though perhaps a bit soft, but he put the referee in that position in the first place so who cares). Oddly enough Wenger admits that changed the game plan and looking back it did kind of affect our rhythm, which actually makes sense.

    Liked Arteta when he came on…wish we could really rely on him for a full season because he does suit our style of play brilliantly.

    Gabriel I’m really warming to, we haven’t had a chance to see much of him thus far but he’s making his case for a berth in the starting 11 pretty well.

    I freaking LOVE Nacho, he might me my MoM today.

    Glad that Ox got the deflected goal off the Newcastle OG but might he have been more effective today?

    Theo was ineffective but as I said earlier the game changed with the early red card, if not for that I think he’d have been much more involved and not surprised if he scored one or two. But when they threw everyone behind the ball it was never going to be his game. Wenger knows this given his comments about the game and Theo knows this as well, I doubt this game has any bearing on anything regarding him and his place in this team really. He’ll still start a fair few games over Giroud.

    Sanchez is still rusty, I hope he can get the recovery he needs over the next couple of weeks. Its just Euro qualifiers right, NO CHILE GAMES, right!?

    One last point: there’s this concept called finishing…yeah. Some players who are currently not at Arsenal do it quite well. Just saying.

    The results today went our way today though so I’m happy and am going to take the cognitive dissonance road and just be happy today and forget about the performance itself and focus on the result and 3 points. Yay.

  66. C says:

    Funny nobody ia crushing Kane for being 1 on 1 against Howard and literally shooting the ball straight at Howard even though he had ACRES of space because he had beaten the offisde trap.

  67. arse110 says:

    @C

    Kane is English. Kane is half decent. Kane is young and has a poster boy look. Kane scores goals here and there. Ergo, Kane is the second coming.

    1-1 on Howard? Kane shot perfectly, it was the gust of wind that suddenly moved the ball right into Howard’s gloves.

  68. YW says:

    Harry

    I genuinely hope no-one is stupid enough to say our win over Palace counts for anything other than three points? And anyone who says West Ham beating Liverpool 3-0 offers perspective on our defeat is surely a troll because it means our own result against Liverpool is even more pathetic.

    No backtracking of any sort here. Our start to the season is still disappointing whichever way you cut it.

  69. Jonny says:

    Ramsay was awarded MOTM – I am not saying he would have been my choice but I thought he was decent today if somewhat error prone. He was not alone in that. Not sure why he has been given such a serve today by some.

    One of the things I am sensing a lot of is a sort of niggling, tetchy impatience. I don’t think any of our players have been in great form this season (which I actually find encouraging) but people have been writing off certain players all too eagerly. I don’t mean necessarily so much on here (though that too is noticeable) but it is prevalent beyond belief on Twitter. I guess that’s Twitter for ya.

    I can see the reasons behind it too but I still think we need a just a few players to start finding their feet and we will see a different team altogether. I doubt anyone will catch Man City this season anyway.

    Better to come. We got the result we needed and others stumbled – I’m caling that a win, 😀

  70. arse110 says:

    @ Jonny
    Perfect comment – one I agree wholeheartedly with.

    Our general fan base seems to love to abuse our lads so readily. Listen, we did NOT cover ourselves in any semblance of glory today but it was a hard fought game which we gladly came out of with three points after a tremendous amount of effort was put in.

    Much work needs to be done on the training pitch – our performances are not right, of that there is no doubt. But in my mind our effort and passion on the pitch is not in doubt either. In my mind that is also important to recognize.

    PS: Personally speaking what is also not in doubt is the need for a clinical finisher above and beyond Giroud 😉

  71. consolsbob says:

    Doesn’t matter that in many games we will be better. Doesn’t matter that we have some very good players.

    Our ‘DNA’ under Arsene in these latter days is that we will seesaw between ‘confidence’ and ‘complacency’. Let’s leave aside the clear, for several seasons, squad failings and our slow play that hamstring those same players.

    Not a balanced squad and not a squad set up to fight.

  72. consolsbob says:

    I wouldn’t abuse our players, they are what they are. None are obnoxious, all are talented.

    As a whole, they are less than the sum of their parts and lack a few cogs. That is not, mainly, their fault. That lies with the club.

  73. mattgoonerknight says:

    arse110

    Great set of comments; keep up the good work.

    Jonny,
    Keep being Jonny☺

    Only saw the opening 10minutes or so as I was playing my own final match of preseason, however, the action I did see featured a great passage of play that finished with a miss from Walcott/save from the keeper, a nailed on penalty & a good move which ended with an offside shot from Ramsey: a shame to read that it apparently went so down hill…

    I’ll watch the game in full tomorrow, but I already know the most salient points: one nil to The Arsenal and three points.

    PS It must have been a really low quality game, because I’ve heard that Newcastle showed virtually no ambition and were really poor, irrespective of being a man down. I bet ‘the toon’, along with many other teams, would have loved their inept, bollocks play to have resulted in three points.

    COYG

  74. C says:

    @arse

    I just finfd it funny, I think he is a good striker but nearly not as good as they make him out to be.

  75. C says:

    @MGK

    The thing about the game is that after Newcastle went down a man, it was as though we decided to slow down it down and allow them to set up. There were times when Newcastle pushed forward and the game was stretched and there were gaps to exploit but often times it was stopped by either a player taking 1-3 too many touches and thus the chance went to shit or a player making a pass and the pass wasn’t even close and the move would break down.

    It was a match were we should have poured on and really taking it to them and we didn’t, we lacked creativity in the final 3rd and you would have wanted Santi or Ramsey to take the match and create something and neither did. It really is unfair to criticize or say that Theo as a CF was a failure because in all honesty nobody looked to attempt let alone try and make a pass to one of hus darting runs. The performance honestly was average just like the rest of them this season and you would have wanted to see more.

    Bellerin, Gabriel and Nacho all played well and Le Coq looks back to his form last season.

  76. jjgsol says:

    Only one home win out of 8 games.

    That makes only a handful of home wins all season.

    Looks like playing at home is no longer such an advantage.

  77. Phil says:

    Not quite sure what the criteria is for the MOTM award.
    It was one of those games where no one player really stood out.
    Monreal was as effective as anybody.
    I thought Ramsay was just ok.

  78. C says:

    How Nacho or Bellerin didn’t win MOTM baffles me but okay.

  79. Mean Lean says:

    We know this group can play better than they are showing, we witnessed it last season for a big stretch, including the FA Cup final so we already know we have gears to go up. Last years champions are in a worse state of funk than we are so that shows it is a very competitive division. If we are to expect champagne football every minute of every match then we are going to be sorely disappointed and more to point never happy. But what was different from the Newcastle win compared to West Ham and Liverpool first half was that we looked solid as a unit. We pressed collectively and our back four were very strong. Newcastle ended up without an attempt on goal throughout the entire 90 minutes. Arsenal teams in the past that were not clicking offensively would have found ways to lose that game.

    Basically I will take an away 3 points while we are not playing well because it is a matter of time before we get our game back again, if we can stay in touch while we are not playing well then that is surely worth sticking your thumbs up right?

  80. arse110 says:

    Thanks guys, I’m relatively new to commenting here (longtime lurker) so am glad for the conversation!

    @Phil and @C – as for the criteria for MoM, I think that attackers more often than not will be favored over defenders just by virtue of the game and if you go with that premise Ramsey probably was MoM. I thought Ramsey was better than ‘just ok’, I’d upgrade him to ‘good’, but personally for me it was Nacho for me and not Bellerin.

  81. Limestonegunner says:

    Everyone is glad to get three points and thinks it was an important win. But there hasn’t been a good performance yet after 4 matches, which is a concern. Because we have not improved the team apart from GK, where I didn’t think we were especially wr, it is difficult to envision improvement overall. That is what has created the concern and dissatisfaction, Mean.

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