The chatter before the game with Mikel Arteta was all focused on the dire performance against West Ham.
What about the standards?
Can the players recover?
Are you worried?
Journalists need soundbites and fans need drama. But I am not convinced there’s a major problem going out of the League Cup. You don’t care about the competition, the club doesn’t, nor do the players. So let’s not overdramatize a loss.
The focus is the Champions League and Premier League. Not feelings around a cup exit in a competition that would have seen us doing a double away session against Liverpool.
There’s only so much gas in the tank for this Arsenal team and we’ve already been sputtering more than usual and it’s only November. The League Cup doesn’t matter when you’re in the Champions League. If it does to you, great, you’re part of a very small collection of people, and I’m going to be really patronizing here: I feel for you. You might not want my sympathy, but I’m going to give it to you. In a world of Mike Dean, Richard Keys Arteta slander, and questionable loan deals between nation-state clubs… you choose this issue to anger you? Let it go.
The big game this week was always Newcastle. If we beat them, no one is talking about Wednesday. If we lose, everyone will double down and complain the weakened side against West Ham was the issue.
Don’t buy it. Arteta gave us the best possible chance against Newcastle by rotating heavily. There were some complaints he rolled on big names for 30 minutes. Again, don’t listen to those fans. Sure, it might have been a leg-breaker risk, but 30 minutes keeps the players fresh and stops them doing the warm down sessions after the game. Our boys got into bed nice and early so they should be in good shape.
So what of Newcastle? They’re a mixed bag if I’m honest.
Top of the xG league this season, but when you look at their results, there’s a clear pattern.
They’ve been losing to the top teams and they’ve beaten the teams they should have.
Their thumping of PSG threw me a little, but then they were beaten at home by Dortmund and they were hammered by Milan and got away with the draw.
Eddie Howe has a lot of injuries to deal with tomorrow.
The factors going against us? We have problems at Newcastle. They’re fearless, they have a lot of beasts in their team, and there’s definitely a bit of PTSD from a few seasons ago.
I don’t count the West Ham game as a problem. What I do think is a going concern is the on-going injury pile-up. Gabi Jesus likely won’t make it, Thomas Partey certainly won’t, and there are doubts on Martin Odegaard (though I think he’ll be good).
That means we’ll likely have a midfield of Rice, Jorginho, and Odegaard.
Defensively, it’s pretty clear that a midweek rested Tomi means he’s getting the nod over the impressive Zinchenko.
Up top, you’d guess it would be Eddie – but he had a stinker in midweek, doesn’t do well against brutal teams, and he hasn’t scored in 18 away games. Will the hat trick sway Mikel?
Kai has been going through it. I’d like to see him pick up that 8 role again. However, against Newcastle, he could be our best bet as a false 9.
The job is not to lose. Newcastle is one of the toughest away days in the league. It’s easy to get caught up by the spicy atmosphere and the electric emotions that course throughout the stadium. So a point or more will do me.
We’re a good away side, but we haven’t found 5th gear all season. 10 games in is when peak fitness starts. I want to see our players looking fresh from minute one – but the most important ingredient is bravery. This game is the biggest for David Raya yet. Bigger than City. Away at Newcastle, they will press, and they will try and bother him. If he’s not brave, our whole system breaks. If he’s not in command of his box, Newcastle will be. He could be a difference maker. We need him to show us that he has a level higher in the locker.
It’s a bit of an annoying weekend to be playing Newcastle because there aren’t any other big games. Not sure Chelsea / Spurs really cuts the shape of a going concern. Drop points here and we get pulled into the muck. We could end the weekend in 5th place. Win… and we pull away from Newcastle and keep up with the league challengers.
There’s a lot on the line – let’s see what Arteta brings to the party.
Ok, see you in the comments. Remember to join the On The Whistle right after the game.