Arsenal Vs Newcastle United: Now Is The Time

Back in the glorious past of football when men were men and tickets cost tuppence I imagine the idea of playing a game on a Monday night would have been vaguely absurd. I imagine people would have been too busy eating supper and looking stern to watch football on a weeknight. That sort of frivolous pursuit was quite rightly confined to a Saturday afternoon.

Of course, since then football and everyone else has discovered money, and that which generates money generally happens. Consequently, we find ourself taking our turn to play a televised match on a Monday night because that way more subscriptions get sold. In truth, it’s not the worst thing in the world for us because our exertions against Milan were such that we badly needed to recuperate before taking on a match of considerable magnitude.

It seems unbelievable that the Milan game was almost a week ago. Such was the energy expended that night that I still feel a little emotionally drained by the experience so god knows what it did to the players. It’ll have to shaken off though because tonight’s game is absolutely vital. As we come down to the business end of the season, no longer can opportunities be missed, no longer can we be confident that there will be others.

Where an opportunity comes up to narrow the gap to a team above us or put distance between ourselves and our competitors it now has to be taken. After tonight there are ten games left. There is a huge fixture against Chelsea in the mix as well as an encounter with Manchester City but its not just those games we need to concern ourselves with. From now on they all matter, if they didn’t before.

So, let’s take it one at a time and get the results we need starting with tonight against Newcastle. The Geordies are having a great season. Although their total embarrassment of an owner has been finding ways to infuriate their supporters even amidst their best top flight performance since the (first) reign of King Kev, what they’ve achieved on the pitch can’t be argued with. A couple of years ago Newcastle’s continuous decline culminated in their hilarious relegation from the Premier League. To give them their due that relegation had a galvanising effect as they shot straight back up and since their return to the Premier League have looked secure and even looked like contenders for European qualification, something that hasn’t been seen at St James’ Pa…. I mean, the Sports Direct Arena, in many a year.

They’ve still managed to embarrass themselves a few times along the way, but being Newcastle United more or less guarantees that. The ludicrous sacking of Chris Hughton springs to mind, as does the continued soul-sucking of their chavvy chairman. But, despite that, since their return to the Premier League they’ve been nothing if not a thorn in Arsenal’s side.

Since their return they’ve beaten us 1-0 at the Grove in what was as I recall the worst game of football ever played, staged a four goal comeback in half an hour to deny us a nailed on victory at the Sports Direct (I know it was still St. James’ Park then, but its more funny to use the corporate name) and earlier this season we were held to a 0-0 draw again up at their place. That result to be fair has come to look a lot better in retrospect considering how bad we were at the start of the season and that Newcastle were very good indeed in the first few months of the campaign.

Although we can claim a Carling Cup victory over them since their return to the Premier League, its tough to avoid the feeling that we owe them one tonight. Despite their good league standing, Newcastle could be suggested to be on something of a slide at the moment. Their last two away games have resulted in pretty conclusive defeats, beaten as they were 5-2 by Fulham and 5-0 by Tottenham.

Newcastle will be to some extent better rested than us having not played since last weekend when they managed to salvage a last minute draw in the derby with Sunderland. They’ll be ready for tonight and that manager of theirs will have them well drilled. If there’s one thing Alan Pardew loves its getting one over on Arsenal, and if there’s one thing I love it’s the sight of Alan Pardew after a defeat to us, snivelling into an interviewers microphone desperately trying to deflect attention away from the failings of himself and his team.

For our part the team news is generally encouraging, the midfield shouldn’t be quite as makeshift as it was against Milan for a start since it appears that Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey and Yossi Benayoun are all back in contention. I would imagine that Ramsey may not go straight back into the starting eleven due to the form of Tomas Rosicky, but it’ll do us no harm at all to have that sort of option on the bench particularly if Newcastle prove difficult to break down this evening.

Last week against Milan was an exceptional game in exceptional circumstances. Tonight it much more of a nuts-and-bolts game, the sort of match that we have to take points from if we want to be back in the Champions League next season. Scoring a few goals would be nice but all we need tonight is a 1-0 victory courtesy of a horribly deflected own goal, that would do very nicely thank you.

We’ve built ourselves a good bit of momentum, won big games against Spurs and Liverpool and kept that up against Milan in the week. We’re looking for a fifth successive Premier League win, one which would take us to within a point of third. It’s an opportunity not to be missed.

I’ll be watching at work later, whatever you’re doing enjoy the match and I’ll return soon.

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  • Michael Sheehy  On 12/03/2012 at 1:52 pm

    I’m sure a 1-0 win would suffice but it would be great to thump them and like even more pressure on Spurs. We have scored 15 goals in our last 3 home games and hopefully we can continue that form tonight.

    • Leper Messiah  On 12/03/2012 at 11:49 pm

      Nicking it at the last minute was, in the end, more than satisfactory 😀

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