Friday, May 24, 2024

Newcastle preview: Every game is a must-win now …

Morning all.

It’s a big one at the Emirates this evening as we take on Newcastle. Liverpool and Man City both won in midweek, so after a disappointing result in the Champions League, there’s just a little extra pressure going into this one. However, as we showed when we beat Liverpool to ensure the gap didn’t become 8 points, that’s something we’re capable of dealing with.

How much we’re capable of changing things up this evening is another question. The injury news updates yesterday were vaguely positive, but not particularly so, and on the availability of Gabriel Jesus, Mikel Arteta says:

We didn’t want to take any more risks because he’s been out for quite a while and he’s a player that we need at his best and we decided to give him a few more days.

It doesn’t sound like he’ll be fit for this evening. Thomas Partey and Oleksandr Zinchenko are reportedly not far away, but it remains to be seen if either might be involved, while Takehiro Tomiyasu still has work to do to make his comeback. It leaves Arteta relatively restricted when it comes to changing his side for this game, perhaps the only addition you can realistically make is Jorginho – who he picks often against this opposition – which would give him a choice between leaving one of Kai Havertz or Leandro Trossard on the bench.

That, at least, would give a bit more depth should we need to change something late on, so I suspect if he does shift things around in midfield, it’ll be the Belgian who drops out. He has shown an ability to make an impact from the bench that few others in this squad have, but we’ll have to wait and see. The biggest change we can make from our last run out is performance level.

Whether you think playing Porto ahead of Newcastle is good preparation or not, I think we know what to expect from them. It’ll be a fast, physical game, and I wonder if they might try to take a little advantage from our midweek game and travel. It can often be the case that the game after a European one is difficult in the first half, so while they’re unlikely to be massively ambitious, they might have a go at that. Which is why a strong start, like the way we dominated the first half against Liverpool in both the FA Cup and the Premier League, could be really important tonight.

The synergy between team and crowd, and crowd and team, could be hugely important this evening too. Arteta said in his press conference:

We want to create an atmosphere in the stadium from the beginning and I ask everybody to go there tomorrow night with full energy because the team is going to need it. We are in a really good moment in the Premier League and we want to continue to be there and tomorrow’s game is vital to achieve that.

And skipper Martin Odegaard backed that up, saying:

I know the supporters will be on fire for another big game under the lights. I think it will be a special one. You can see the impact our supporters are having on the games now, every time we play. You see it on the pitch – and every time we play now the players feel the connection with our supporters and it’s so important to us. You all help to bring the noise, the energy and the fire in the game, so we need you again tonight – because this is something we want to do together.

With a somewhat unusual 8pm kick off time, there’s plenty of time for a pre-game shandy or two, so hopefully everyone will be in good spirits, and that the team can immediately lock into that with what they do on the pitch. We know what happened last time we played Newcastle, how much it hurt, and how much there was a sense of injustice. Although he played a pretty straight bat with that stuff pre-game, we know Arteta well enough at this point to realise that he will use every single thing he can to wring every ounce of motivation about of his players, so they’ll be fired up for this one.

At this point of the season, with the teams we’re fighting with for the title, every game is a must-win, and tonight is no exception. The Porto game was poor, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. Let’s tap in to what we did in the weeks before that. The Premier League form has been very good, so that’s what we need tonight, against opposition who made this one personal.

As ever you can follow the game with us on the live blog, we’ll have all the post-game stuff on Arseblog News, and you can listen to our preview podcast over on Patreon right now.

Have a good Saturday in the meantime, and I’ll catch you later. Come on you reds!

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