Greetings– I hope you’ll consider running this Gooner’s ‘open letter’ preview of today’s Newcastle v Arsenal match.

Dear Magpies.

We have been embroiled in a fair few imbroglios (embarrassing situations) over the years, haven’t we, even if you lot haven’t been relevant for a while, since—well, since 2010 when you went out and won the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle, winnin’ the—oh. That was the Championship. Well, good on youse for that.

Since then and long before, it’s been a bit of a dry spell since you were anything more than a magpie in the ointment. There was of course that epic comeback in 2011 from 0-4 that still haunts us to this day—bit of a sore spot, that one—but you’ve also played a more welcome role of late, such as the final match of the 2012-13 season when Koscielny netted to secure fourth while we trolled Tottenham.

Thanks for that, by the way. Back to the present, though.

A quick glance at the table suggests that you’re off to a slow start. Winless. No goals scored in your last two outings. Slumming it with the relegation zone, trailing all three promoted sides.

Then again, at least you’re ahead of Sunderland, and you’ve shown signs of spirit if not success, drawing at home to the perennial Cinderellas of Southampton, before getting drubbed by Swansea, only to secure another draw, this time at Old Trafford. Not bad. Not bad at all.

It’s early days and all, but that kind of form might actually bode well for the longer term. If you can find a few more goals here or there, you might be a force to be reckoned with.

Your transfer dealings have been shrewd, I have to admit.

We are all too familiar with Aleksandar Mitrović; he scored an equaliser for Anderlecht in a comeback not too dissimilar from that infamous 4-4 mentioned just a few minutes ago.

The additions of Thauvin and Wijnaldum look equally shrewd (and we may yet owe you a bit of thanks for taking Wijnaldum from PSV Eindhoven…something to revisit another day). If this trio can bed in quickly, and if McLaren can get the squad to buy into his system, you may yet shoulder your way back into the conversation.

The memories may have faded elsewhere, but not here.

There was a time in Arsenal’s history when its success depended heavily on a Geordie—George Armstrong, to be precise. Hailing from Hebburn, County Durham, a stone’s throw from St. James’ Park, Armstrong lives on as a cult-legend among Gooners like your correspondent, and his tireless service to Arsenal will forever endear all Geordies to me (well almost all—there are always a few w*nkers among any club’s followers…). In fact, he might just stand as one of my favourite Gunners, surpassed only by the similarly inimitable Liam Brady. Apparently, I’m an old codger.

However, I am no fool.

An ambitious Newcastle makes for a more crowded top of the table and we at Arsenal are a bit tetchy about our tenuous hold on a top-four finish. The last thing we need is another club barging in on the conversation. Bad manners and all.

Speaking of which, I know it’s bad manners to come in as a guest and track mud all over the interior, but I’m sorry to say that we plan on playing the role of rude intruders on your grounds.

I know that Giroud is eager to add to his impressive tally of eight goals in five starts, and something in me suspects that Walcott would love to carve out a few chances for himself, but we’ll have to wait and see who’s named to start.

May the best squad win!

Jon Shay