Connect with us

Match Previews

EPL Match Day 26: Arsenal v Newcastle; Match Preview

When these two teams met three months ago, they were two different teams. For Newcastle they were managed by Chris Hougton and Andy Carroll was their primary goal scoring threat. Arsenal, had a slew of injuries, were playing inconsistent football and were fighting to secure the 3rd or 4th spot in the league.

If Arsenal are going to keep pressure in Manchester United than a win at St. James Park against Newcastle is an absolute must.

When these two teams met three months ago, they were two different teams. For Newcastle they were managed by Chris Hougton and Andy Carroll was their primary goal scoring threat. Arsenal, had a slew of injuries, were playing inconsistent football and were fighting to secure the 3rd or 4th spot in the league.

In the time since Carroll’s header shocked the Emirates crowd and caused Tyneside to erupt a lot has changed. Houghton and Caroll are no longer with the magpies. Houghton has been fired and in case you didn’t know Andy Carroll was sold for a record £35 milljon to Liverpool. Arsenal have moved into second place. They semmingly have tightended up things at home and they have star players who were gone for long periods of time – back.

Still some things never change at Arsenal and we’re suffering from two very significant injures. First in the FA Cup tie against Huddersfield, Samir Nasri came up with a lame hamstring keeping him sidelined for up to 3 weeks. This is a significant blow to the player who has been enjoying a successful run with Arsenal. He recently won his second in a row of the month award and his third for the season. The other injury is a minor thigh injury to Alex Song. This is likely the only match Song should miss. He took a cleat shot to the thigh and has a bruise as far as I can tell.

All this means is that two people are going to have to step up and fill in those roles. The good news is one of them isn’t Denilson (he is injured too). Sorry still not the biggest fan of the Brazillian. Sure,  I know a lot of people rate him, I don’t. I find his passing lacking, his ability to hold the ball ineffecient and his ability to get the ball back when he does lose it woefull. Sure, he as good spouts of play but not as good as the others he plays with. So forin place of  Alex Song, Diaby should deputize. The jury is still out on the french international.  For a long stretch last season he showed that he had turned a corner and was playing good ball. Injuries this season have prohibited any sort of consistent run this season. So Diaby not only has to show that he is a reliable player but he has to show that he can step into some really big shoes.

Coming in for Nasri should be Andrei Arshavin. Even though on Tuesday it was Rosicky, little Mozart looks ineffective in the side and I feel if Arsenal do bring in Eden Hazard as has been rumoured, then it is Roicky who will be gone.  Arshavin on the other hand is a run of good games away from finding his form. And I think we started to see that on Tuesday against Everton. Sure we were pressing Everton well with the team we had on the pitch but it was missing the cutting edge a player like Nasri and Arshavin can bring and sure enough not 10 minutes after Arshavin came on the pitch did we score the equalizer soon followed by Koscielny’s winner.

Arshavin like Nasri (even when Andrei isn’t in bad form) likes to attack defences. He is so wiley that he can open up teams by his skillfull moves in and around the box. What I think he does better than most Arsenal players save Van Persie – is his shot selection. He doesn’t need to be inside the box to shoot. He will take the shot if he feels he has it. The problem this season has been finding the target or applying any of that skill to his shot. Throw that in with the what was/is a lacksidasial effort on getting involved in play and you have the recipe for an out of form player and a frustrated fan base.

As a whole Arsenal need to win and keep the pressure on Man United. United and even City have easy matches this weekend. So a slip on our part would be costly. The team has to continue to find the form it has from the Christmas run and on. They have to continue to press the ball and be patient in unlocking determined teams. The situation with their opponent is diametrically opposite to the last time these two teams metm Newcastle are ravaged by injuries and are reeling from the depature of Andy Carroll. All in all if Arsenal play their and maintain their away form this should be a match they can put away early.

How the Match Should Play Out:
In their last 16 meetings Newcastle have only won twice (that includes this last match at the Emirates). The sides are no stranger to playing each other with Arsenal taking the Carling Cup match 4-0 at St. James Park and Newcastle winning the first EPL tie 1-0. Arsenal are going to want to put this game out sight early. And while my score projection  is three, I suspect at least two of those to come in the first half. Arsenal are a purring machine right now and they are absolutely displaying all the right qualities. All in all that will be a enough to handle the Tynesdie atmosphere and team.  Frankly, I a think the fans at St. James will be more focused on the absence of Carroll then they will with what goes on during the match.

Players to Watch:
Arsenal: Andrei Arshavin. As we said he is slotting in for Arsenal’s best player and if he can come to form than there really is no player better to do so. The question is, was the Everton match a sign he has turned the corner or is it just a case of temporary adjustment.

Newcastle: Kevin Nolan. Newcastle are going to struggle to find goals with Carroll gone and Ameobi out with a fractured cheekbone. That means Kevin Nolan is going to have to step up and fill that void.

Projected Starting Sides:

Injuries and Suspensions:
Arsenal:  Song (thigh) Denilson (hamstring) Nasri (Hamstring) Fabianski (shoulder) Frimpong (knee), Vermaelen (Achilles)

Newcastle: Ameobi ( fractured cheekbone) Ben Arfa (broken leg) Gosling (knee), Ireland (hamstring) S Taylor (hamstring), Smith (ankle) R Taylor (ankle)

Leading Scorers:
Arsenal: Nasri 14 (9 league) Chamakh 10 (7 league) Walcott 10 (7 league)

Newcastle: Nolan 10 (10 league) Ameobi 7 (4 league)

Last Meeting: (EPL)
Arsenal: 0
Newcastle: 1

Last 5:
Arsenal: WDWWW
Newcastle: WWDDL

Goals For:
Arsenal: 1.9 (away)
Newcastle: 2.2 (home)

Goals Against:
Arsenal: 0.9 (away)
Newcastle: 1.3 (home)

Goal Difference:
Arsenal: 27
Newcastle: 2

Match Officials:
Referee: Phil Dowd
Assistant referees: Trevor Massey & Darren Bond
Fourth official: Stuart Attwell

Broadcast Information:
US: FSC: 10:00 AM EST

UK: ?????? 1745 GMT

GAMEDAY CHAT: It’s Open!!!!!!

YAMA Prediction:
Arsenal: 3
Newcastle: 0


Other things I think I know:

I have watched with interest this week, the budding feud between David Moyes and Arsene Wenger about what Cesc Fabregas said or didn’t say at half-time to match referee Lee Mason. If you believe Moyes Fabregas shouted something at Mason to the effect of asking who paid him.  You might remember Mason missed an absolute shocker by letting Saha’s goal stand even though he was clearly offside before Koscielny touched the ball.

What ensued was a week long escapade of – you lied, no you did, no you did. What it boils down is that Fabregas was drug the through the press and by most accounts described as nothing more than a petulant child. My question is is that an accurate description or is Fabregas merely being a passionate captain and very vocal in what he finds to be an aggregious call?

The tough part in assessing this is that this is behaviour that Fabregas is showing more and more. Some of the press went so far as to summize that if Fabregas is acting this vocal than he is really showing that he doesn’t want to be with Arsenal. Frankly, I am not sure I see the correlation and that certain press outlets are looking to batter Arsenal yet again.

Sure, Fabregas is 24. He is young and maybe some of his approaches to handling situations are different than that of an “elder statesman” captain. But can you blame a player for his impassioned cries when he spend and entire match getting clattered and the refs seemingly won’t protect him from the clubbing he gets.  To him I am sure it seems like his team, the team he leads are given a different set of standards they have to operate by.

Fabregas is a good Captain as his form leads the way for the team and players feed off of that. He has become more vocal in calling players out like he did against Denilson when he got the stupid penalty that led to a goal. That kind of stuff is going to come with time. I don’t think this is petulance in any form but it is Cesc Fabregas finding his voice as Captain and protector of his teammates.


More in Match Previews