Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Three reasons why Newcastle will be a tough nut to break

By 1970’s Gooner

There has been a lot of euphoric sentiment about Arsenal this past few days and justifiably so as that win over Aston Villa epitomized what has been so good this season as compared to last.

The scintillating performance of the first and the fighting spirit of the second half have further instilled confidence in players and fans alike that this team can go all the way.

Amidst all this lies the visit to St James’s Park to face a Newcastle side who have been shipping goals in by the bucketful recently; three away at Blackburn and another three at home against Liverpool the week before.

However this fixture against Arsenal has the potential of turning into a banana skin and there are three reasons for this.

1. “The backlash effect”

The Newcastle players are likely to rally round so as to answer criticism that there’s no revolt from within their ranks.

There has been a lot of criticism of Allardyce from fans and if you believe the papers from some of the players. Whether this is true or not is another matter.

What will matter however is that, as has often been noticed with teams that are under pressure, the players rally round.

They rally round each other and round their manager. They want to prove to every fan watching on the terraces or in their sitting rooms in front of the telly that they are up to it.

That they can turn things round. That they are the players who will get the club out of this mess.

And don't forget there’s the January transfer window looming close where their own heads might be on the block.

2. “The Bolton effect”

"When under pressure go back to what you do best especially if it worked before under similar circumstances. Arsenal are back in town after all".

I don’t believe Big Sam when he says that this Newcastle side cannot adopt the same tactics as Bolton used to do so successfully against Arsenal in the past.

Sam Allardyce will adopt Bolton “in your face” type of tactics and he has the players to do it. Players like Viduka and Smith in attack and Barton and Butt in midfield.

He will have seen how Aston Villa pinned the Gunners in their own half in the second period last Saturday and he will want to do the same. By pressing higher up the field and sticking close, intimidating players and in your face type of marking.

3. “The injury effect”

Arsenal are missing influential midfield and forward players. This did not prove to be a significant problem up to now as the strength in depth available to Wenger proved to be just that.

The players in the current squad are so flexible and technically skilled that they can play in more than one position. Hleb for example has played on the wing, as a support forward to Adebayor and as a central midfielder. Rosicky has done the same.

But now the injury list is so long even this dearth of options and combinations is beginning to run out for Wenger. In attack we have Van Persie missing. In midfield we have Fabregas, Flamini, Hleb and Diaby out.

It’s not as though there are no available players to fill in. Gilberto, Diara and Denilson will be available for the midfield positions and Eduardo or even Bendtner or Rosicky can play in attack.

However it is the quality and creativeness that Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb used to bring that will be missed. And it is this attribute that usually unlocks defences and tight marking.

It was evidently absent the last time that these three players were missing. Against Wigan Arsenal struggled for 80 minutes to find a way to goal and it was not until Gallas stepped up and took matters into his own hands that victory was achieved.

Maybe we will need another inspirational moment from an unlikely source again tonight.


Wrighty7 said...

Yeah I agree, there is no way that this game will be easy despite the contrasting form between the two sides. I think Newcastle will try to bully us and get the crowd behind them early in the game. If we can withstand this and keep the crowd quiet then we will win. I fancy us to win a tight game, maybe 2-1 or 1-0. Cant decide!

Wrighty7 said...

Is it me or is Alan Smith one of the biggest pricks of a football player on earth?! He loves to dish it out but cant take it given to him! Wot a goal by Ade! Think we got a couple of gears in us.

Anonymous said...

Wrighty7 smith is a commited player and he takes it and gives it in equal measures to say he is a prick for playing 100% is just a stupid comment.I wish we saw more players give their all like him week in week out for the toon and england.It was a good game tonite a bit physical at times but you got to expect that teams are not gonna let you play the fancy stuff all the time.I hope you lot win the league as you have a great team and play good football.Had a few pints with some of your lads before the game great guys gonna meet up with them for a few when we next play.

Anonymous said...

Wrighty7, I'd say its you.
Smith played well and a couple of your lads (esp. Sagna and Gilberto) should give themselves a talking to about feigning injury. Its a bit pathetic to watch and luckily ref Dean was not taken in.
When you ever see Smudger do that, be sure and let me know.

Wrighty7 said...

I agree Smith gives 100% and maybe my words were a bit harsh, I was wound up after his challenge on Gallas and maybe the fact he played for ManUre has clouded my judgement! I still stand by my comment that he gives it out but when he gets it back he dont stop whingeing and he dont like it up him! Just my opinion!