Newcastle vs Arsenal – Preview, Teams, and Odds

 Match Previews  Comments Off on Newcastle vs Arsenal – Preview, Teams, and Odds
Aug 132011
 

Yaaawwwn! I’m still a bit sleepy from my off-season-long coma, but I was rudely awoken from my slumber with the news that we have signed yet another pacey winger/striker. No, really. Yes, we have. No, I’m afraid he can’t play centre-back.

The player in question is Joel Campbell, a 19-year-old Costa Rican who has played well for his country, but who has not played for a club outside his native land. Hmm. But still, any signing should be applauded and welcomed, and I have genuinely heard good things about this lad. I do envisage a lengthy period of acclimatisation while he gets used to the Premier League pace and occasional brutality, but I’ve seen a few clips on YouTube and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.

Speaking of brutality, we may well line up against that criminal nutcase whose tweets have revealed him to be, well, a nutcase. Completely bonkers. But let’s not forget the nasty side of Barton’s game, which resulted in Diaby completely losing it in the 4-4 disaster earlier this year. I hope he doesn’t feature.

According to the official site, Vermaelen is fit (woo!) and so is RvP (double woo!). These two players will be absolutely crucial to our season, and every game I will say a little prayer that they finish the 90 minutes with all of their limbs intact.

Interesting to see the list of shirt numbers on the official site. Those two midfielders who will not be named were on there, which strikes me as complete denial. The slightly more interesting bit is that Szczesny has the number 13 shirt, and Alex OC has the number 15. Gervinho, somewhat strangely, is way down with 27. I know little should be read into these numbers, but you could reasonably assume that Szczesny will be ahead of Fabianksi, and that Alex OC may pay more of a part this season than I for one expected him to.

Wilshere’s ankle injury sounds extremely worrying. He’s been “put in a boot. He has an inflamed ankle and it is difficult to set any specific date on his return, but we hope he will be back soon,” according to the official site. I know he’s quite small, but that’s still got to be a pretty massive boot. Well anyway, I hope he get’s better soon, because without the two who shall not be named and young Jack, we’re somewhat short in the creative department.

Team Line-up

So I expect something like:

Szczesny; Gibbs – Koscielny – Vermaelen – Sagna; Song – Ramsey – Rosicky; Arshavin/Walcott – v Persie – Gervinho

I’m very curious as to who we’ll see on the bench, as it may give us an indication of how much we’ll see the likes of Alex OC this season.

Odds

Having made some significant wins but an overall loss last season, I’m going to be quite choosy about my bets. For first goalscorer, it’s got to be Gervinho on his debut at 6/1 with BlueSq. 2-0 to us looks good with William Hill at 10-1. My long shot of the day has to be a v Persie hat-trick at 25/1 with William Hill, and a few pennies have gone on Vermaelen to mark his comeback with a goal anytime, 8/1 with Coral.

We’re all disappointed about Cesc and Nasri, and more so that we haven’t signed a good replacement for either or a decent centre-half. But tomorrow there’s a team out there that need our support.

Come on you Gooooooooners!

Arsenally Yours,

Will

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 Review

 Match Reviews  Comments Off on It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 Review
Feb 062011
 

Worrying news from Twitter. Stade 2 – the French equivalent of MoTD has accused Rosicky of throwing the game. See here if you speak French. Unbelievable. He played pretty badly, but that’s nothing new. They claim he had a hand two of the goals, and that Interpol are opening an enquiry. They can’t, Interpol is just the means by which police forces communicate and they don’t have a ‘police force’. Complete rubbish. I hope Arsenal lawyers are onto them sharpish.

On a lighter note, this is far more likely 😉 Phil Dowd’s betting slip, courtesy of twooner @darylbooth.

Newcastle 4 Arsenal 4 Review

Never has the tired cliché “a game of two halves” been more depressingly appropriate. Last night I couldn’t find the words to express the feelings of disappointment in our team and anger at the culprits – Dowd, Diaby, and the criminal Barton. And it must be added, fresh frustration in our transfer non-activity after the injury to Johan Djourou leaves us with two fit centre halfs.

It started so well, didn’t it? We were two up while some fans were still finding their seats. And the goals were so easy. Arshavin found Walcott after 43 seconds, and my fellow Hemelite found the back of the net. Next Djourou scored his first league goal for the club, heading in Arshavin’s free kick. Another good performance from the bonkers little Russian became irrelevant in the farce that was to follow.

Before half an hour we had four, and I was considering my 7-0 and 7-1 bets at 500-1 were a sound investment. There were signs, however, that the men in black hadn’t been to Specsavers. V Persie got crunched by two toon players, and was penalised for it. He took his revenge by getting the third and fourth goals, a cut back from Walcott and a totally free header from a Sagna cross.

There did turn out to be 8 goals as I’d predicted, but who’d have thought that the next four would be all Newcastle? Certainly not me. Even if you’d told me we’d have to play the second half with 10 men I’d have been confident that we’d have seen out the rest of the game with ease.

No doubt Pardew said something in the dressing room about commitment. No doubt he complained that they’d hardly put a challenge in. He’d have been right to say that, Newcastle in the first half were as dire as we were excellent. A different team emerged from the Toon dressing room, and it was one that craved blood.

They didn’t waste any time trying to get it. The convicted violent criminal that is Joey Barton went in hard and two footed on Diaby, in precisely the kind of challenge that breaks legs. The Frenchman’s reaction was one of fury, he grabbed Barton by the scruff of the neck and was rightly sent off. Given our number 2’s injury history, such a reaction was on some level understandable, but for the most part just plain idiotic. There was no way that Phil Dowd could allow him to stay on the pitch after that, and he knew it. Stupid.

All Arsenal players are routinely given more hard tackles than other teams receive, because of the view that “Arsenal don’t like it up them.” Some players, like Vieira was in his early playing days and Fabregas is now, are rountinely kicked around the park, in the view that it will disrupt our style of play. But both those players learnt that the only way to deal with it is not to react. To get one over their opponents by a goal and a hard tackle, not by getting themselves sent off.

I have no doubt that Barton got what he was after from Diaby, which just tells you all you need to know about the scouse git. How Phil Dowd let him stay on the pitch is just beyond me. But by reacting in such a way, Diaby’s just making the situation worse, and no doubt more teams will now act in the same way. We’ve got Wolves after the midweek international. Great!

Another decision that baffled me, was how Nolan could stay on the pitch. He did exactly the same thing as Diaby, if not worse. Szczesny clung on the ball after Barton had scored their first, a deserved penalty which Koscielny gave away. Nolan had him in a headlock and who got carded? You guessed it, Szczesny.

After they scored a lucky second, they got their third thanks to another refereeing blunder. I have no idea why a penalty was given. Koscielny jumped with Rosicky and a Toon player and the linesman waved his arm frantically. It wasn’t a soft penalty it was a ridiculous decision.

Tioté’s equaliser in the dying minutes of the game was a fine goal, to be fair. But my head had been in my hands long before then, as gooners everywhere could sense the goal coming. There was a brief moment of hope before the final whistle when v Persie scored, but it was disallowed for offside. He was level apart from his arm, which as I understand it makes him onside. But at least the decisions had a degree of consistency to them – they all went against us.

Game over, we’d managed to lose a four nil advantage. We could have been two points behind ManUre after they lost at Molineaux.

But that’s not the whole story. Yes, Diaby was an idiot, Barton’s a violent criminal, and Phil Dowd is as blind as a bat, but still. We showed a worrying lack of heart, muscle, leadership, and crucially mental strength to throw away the lead in that manner.

It’s often noticeable that a team’s performance drops when a key player is injured. Given how well he’s performed for us all this season, Johan Djourou has turned into such a player, and his loss is worrying. Fingers crossed it’s not serious. But such a drop in form – think England v Brasil in Japan when Rooney’s foot went – may be understandable, but it’s certainly avoidable.

It must also be difficult to stay focussed on discipline as a team when one of your own loses the plot in the manner that Diaby did. But you’d expect a team whose manager is constantly banging on about mental stength to have that focus, concentration and desire. They were not helped by the cauldron of St James’ Park, but they were also not helped in the second half by their captain, who as I saw it did little to raise his voice or the players’ spirits. Whether or not Cesc is captain, we need a vocal player on the pitch, and I don’t think we had one in Newcastle.

You also have to question the wisdom of bringing off two of our potent attacking weapons. It seemed as though the players on the pitch suffered a drop in confidence with the arrival of Eboue and Rosicky. Bringing them on said to Newcastle – we’re worried, and we’re not going to attack. Compound this with the fact that the Ivorian and the Czech were totally anonymous, and you have all the ingredients for the surrender of a four goal advantage. Shocking.

I hope the players are ashamed of how poorly they reacted to the adverse situation, to rubbish refereeing, and to rough tackling from the opposition. I’ve never seen such a bad half of a game from Arsenal in a long time, and I hope it’s a good while before we see the like again.