Arsene Wenger has been talking about the obstacles he is facing ahead of the game at St James Park on Sunday.
Rafa Benitez couldn’t have asked for better preparation conditions ahead of facing Arsenal.
The Newcastle boss saw his team win at Leicester to make it four wins and a draw in the last six games, then has had eight days to prepare his team against the Gunners.
At his pre-match press conference, Rafa also confirmed that he has finally got a full squad to choose from and they have training all week.
As for Arsenal…since Newcastle last played, Wenger’s team have played twice. Beating Southampton in the Premier League and then that scare in Moscow.
Going two goals behind after 50 minutes and only one goal away from disaster and Europa League elimination, it meant no chance of Arsene Wenger giving any players an early substitution ahead of Newcastle.
Two late goals confirmed Arsenal went through but their manager said after the game how he is having to juggle his relatively limited resources.
Not arriving back in the UK until 5am on Friday morning hasn’t exactly helped ahead of the trip to Newcastle and having played his best available team in the Europa League, we all look forward to seeing who plays for the visitors today.
David Ospina is ruled out with an ankle injury picked up in training this week, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is missing with a knee problem, whilst midfielder Santi Cazorla continues to be out with an Achilles injury.
Arsenal’s best defender Laurent Koscielny will also not play at St James Park, he has an ongoing Achilles problem and will be rested after playing the full game in Moscow.
Aaron Ramsey is also very likely to be rested, he got a nasty cut on his leg during Thursday’s match and needed six staples, though he did manage to keep on playing after treatment.
Arsene Wenger points to the fact that as well as the Europa League schedule, with also getting to the League Cup final that has added to Arsenal’s ‘fatigue’.
Everything points to the match against Newcastle being one that Arsenal would much rather do without, especially when they are 13 points off fourth and no chance of qualifying for the Champions League via that route.
The Arsenal boss summing things up perfectly when saying ‘Fortunately, next week [after Newcastle], we can recover’, as they have a rare free week before a home game with West Ham next Sunday and then the all important semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid.
It is very difficult to imagine a scenario where the build up could be any better for Newcastle and worse for their opponents.
Now the team just have to go out on the pitch and take advantage.
Even the sun is shining on Tyneside this morning…
“Honestly, it is very difficult…
“We land [in the UK] at 5am [Friday morning] and we play Sunday morning.
“The second thing that is very difficult, is that when you play [in the Premier League], everybody else has already played.
“Not only are you physically very jaded, but also you are under huge pressure each time to win the game, it is maybe mentally tougher than physically.
“Fatigue is a little bit of a concern because for long periods now, with the League Cup in the middle of the season, it’s a bit difficult.
“You look at [Man] City [who beat Arsenal in the League Cup final] and they look a bit like that in the second half of games recently.
“Fortunately, next week [after Newcastle], we can recover.
“I rotate as much as I can but unfortunately some players have to play all of the games.”