Newcastle preview: Arsene Wenger’s basket is full of Europa League eggs

456

It’s a trip to Newcastle today for a Premier League which means little at this point in the grand scheme of things. No match is irrelevant, we do have an unbeaten run and some momentum to protect, but at this point the Europa League is our basket and all of our eggs should be in it.

If you were to compare our basket to other baskets, which have various products in them, ours is just full of European eggs. Los huevos. Les oeufs. Die Eier. Le uova. Na huibheacha. Äggen. Das Eggenheimers. Anyway, that’s it.

The question now is how do we serve up these eggs. Will they be perfectly fried, sunny side up, ensuring a runny yolk because a hard yolk is unpleasant and leaves you with nothing to mop up with your toast. I feel like this could be an Arsecast Extra question. James probably likes a hard yolk with butter AND jam, the monster.

Are we going to scramble Newcastle today? Poach them? Boil them, as if we were stranded on a desert island and having to resort to cannibalism. Sorry Rafa, you’re first because there’s plenty of good eating on you mate. I just don’t know. We might make some kind of quiche or soufflé, you simply can’t tell with Arsenal.

I suspect, given that there is a week between fixtures, the rotation for this week’s game won’t be quite as heavy as it will be ahead of the first leg of our semi-final against Atletico Madrid. When we face West Ham at home next Sunday, Arsene Wenger is going to rest the shite out of the players who will play in that game. Nevertheless, I do expect to see some of that today.

Like, can we not play Hector Bellerin, for example? Let’s get him properly rested because he’s been overplayed this season in my opinion, and while there’s no obvious replacement in the absence of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, is there really no other solution than to lash Hector out at every available opportunity? It’s not ideal but we could play Calum Chambers there, bringing in Rob Holding into the centre of the defence, or perhaps delve deeper into the academy to find a player who could use the opportunity.

I’d like to see Reiss Nelson get another go after his first Premier League start last weekend. I though it was relatively inauspicious, but he showed some nice touches and another game might see him a bit more able to express himself. I’m not expecting him to do anything too fancy, like serve up Shirred eggs, but with his skills and ability, he could add a bit of a spice with some huevos rancheros.

Central midfield is another area where some fresh legs might be useful. Jack Wilshere looks absolutely knackered and in need of a relaxing spa retreat, Aaron Ramsey is too important to risk, Granit Xhaka has been ill (but could return today to get him up to speed a bit), so we could see Joe Willock in the squad at least. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will start up front, Alex Iwobi should come into the team, maybe Lacazette too, but I think it’s an either or with him and the former Dortmund man at the moment because of Europe, and after that it’s on how much Arsene Wenger feels he can use his key men.

The league table shows Burnley just two points behind us which might make some people think today is a bit more of a priority but it really shouldn’t be a huge consideration. Sure, finishing behind them would ordinarily be bad but doing so and winning the Europa League would offset that completely. Not winning the Europa League though, that’s another thing but finishing ahead of Burnley won’t make up for that either.

So, we come back to our basket and the eggs. Yesterday I got a double yolk in my fried egg. Double drop in the early hours of a Saturday morning, I’m sure some of you have been there in the past, and the egg was extra delicious. It has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to what will happen at St James’ Park today though. I just thought I’d mention it.

As ever, we’ll have live blog and post match stuff on Arseblog News. It’s almost relaxing because there’s just no pressure with this game. Will it be inspiring to Arsenal, or something else? We’ll find out soon enough.

Catch you later for the game.