It isn’t often that you’re disappointed with a 2-0 win away from home, but it was the case for Arsenal in midweek.
Hopefully the players overcome that disappointment and recover quickly, as the performance really wasn’t the issue. The damage has already been done – let’s not suffer a hangover.
After Tuesday night we have now won 13 of our last 15 games. That doesn’t happen by accident.
This group of players is incredibly talented and in fine form; they have to remember just how good they are.
That run of form has left us still in the hunt on both domestic fronts, but with four weeks between us and our FA Cup semi-final with Reading the focus, for now, remains firmly on the Premier League.
Our fantastic run includes five consecutive league wins, leaving us just a point behind Manchester City in second. Chelsea are still seven points clear with a game in hand, and we can’t expect to reach them.
As Arsène Wenger said in Thursday’s press conference, we can only win our own games. Maybe that will ultimately culminate in us getting close to José Mourinho’s side but we will have to focus on our own fixtures and see how it all pans out.
That fixture this weekend is a tricky one, no matter what the form guide or predicted line-ups tell you. In 11 Premier League visits to Newcastle since Dennis Bergkamp’s wonder goal in the 2001/02 season, we’ve only managed to win by more than one goal on one occasion (a 3-1 win in March 2009.)
Those 11 visits have brought six draws, but just one win for the home side. Of our four most recent league victories at St. James’ Park, we have won the last two in a row, both with the same narrow 1-0 scoreline.
Nothing much has changed from midweek, though Tomas Rosicky may return.
Arsène Wenger’s pre-match press conference revealed a number of players were tired after two tough games against West Ham United and AS Monaco in the past week, but he will assess them closer to the game.
The manager also revealed that Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy, and Jack Wilshere are all still a few weeks away. It will take at least a couple of weeks after the upcoming international break before they are ready for action.
After midweek it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some rotation, but Wenger will want to keep the team fairly stable given their recent form.
Possible XI: Ospina; Chambers, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs; Coquelin, Ramsey; Walcott, Özil, Welbeck; Giroud.
While our form has been great, Newcastle have stumbled through 2015 so far.
Only three wins from their last 15 Premier League games, the side are struggling badly.
Each year they seem to go through a similar process. Once again they are not in danger of relegation, but won’t trouble the European places, and the players already seem to be on their holidays.
Under John Carver, a man with no managerial experience, the side have struggled badly. They really struggle for goals and, in recent games against Everton and Manchester City, have been hapless defensively.
They do, however, pose a threat at home. Chelsea lost away to Newcastle this season, and Manchester United were recently fortunate to come away from the North East with all three points.
The home side will be without captain Fabricio Coloccini and top scorer Papiss Cissé on Saturday, both serving suspensions. The Newcastle squad is incredibly light at the back, with Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett also missing, and defensive midfielder Cheick Tioté is also injured.
John Carver said on Thursday that he has just 13 senior players available.
Of those, Ayoze Perez started the season brightly, and has already scored against Arsenal this season, but has since faded. He could be one to look out for.
Possible XI: Krul; Janmaat, Williamson, Anita, Taylor; Sissoko, Colback; Perez, Cabella, Ameobi; Riveire.
This game is not as easy as it may appear, but not winning against such a depleted Newcastle side would not be good enough.
They will probably defend deep, but the crowd will be on their back if they don’t even attempt to win the game.
Despite the recent records of both sides I’m anticipating a close affair, but you really would expect Arsenal to take all three points and win a sixth Premier League game on the bounce.
Let’s keep our good run going.