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Opinion

Arsenal fan gives the ‘view from the other side’ on Newcastle United and Saturday’s match

11 months ago
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So in addition to everything else, Newcastle United now have a manager who doesn’t appear at all keen to carry on during the third national lockdown.

The positivity we all needed, right?

But with our relatively safe position in mid-table intact, there should be no excuse not to attack the FA Cup on Saturday night, away at Arsenal.

Who knows, with the wind in our sails and a few players back, we may cause an upset.

But would it even be an upset?

Arsenal have had their own struggles at times this season, although Mikel Arteta has overseen a recent resurgence, and won the FA Cup last August.

It may be the manager’s chosen method to ride out another difficult season. Many Arsenal fans have speculated he would be under far more severe pressure, if fans were back in packed stadiums.

Ahead of the game, I got the ‘view from the other side’, from Arsenal fan and my good mate, excellent freelance sports journalist Matt Chivers.

He is a lifelong Arsenal fan and has given his views on a number of subjects around the Gunners and Saturday’s match.

My thanks to Matt for joining me for this preview. Here’s what he thinks ahead of the game.

Jack: What have you made of Arsenal’s season so far?

Matt: It has been very disappointing so far, when you consider the solid performances that we saw from us when football restarted in the summer.

There have been superb individual performances from players such as Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney but that aside, it has been very timid and inconsistent.

The last few weeks have shown what we can do and what Arteta is capable of as a coach, but so far it is clear that there is a distinct lack of quality and conviction in that team.

Jack: For you, is Arteta the right man?

Matt: You would have to say no.

For a start, a novice manager should not be managing Arsenal, this job should be the pinnacle for a football coach and not just a step up the career ladder.

Despite seeing some great coaching performances and proof of defensive cohesion and organisation, there are things we see every week that show his incompetence.

It is hard to blame Mikel, because he is learning his trade on the job.

He is only at the beginning of his coaching career and a club like Arsenal should not be relying on someone with such inexperience to solve each problem he is faced with.

Jack: Your favourite Arsenal memory?

Matt: The FA Cup final win over Chelsea in 2017 was a great feeling.

It was just one of those massive occasions, against a big rival and it was a very strong Chelsea side that had just won the league.

The performance was typified by a superb performance from Per Mertesacker and Aaron Ramsey scoring yet another cup final winner was a brilliant moment. That was a special day for us.

Jack: Memorable/standard Arsenal v Newcastle games from your years as a fan?

Matt: There is obviously the famous 4-4 draw at St James Park that sticks out…but the less said the better.

I remember watching Arsenal v Newcastle about eight years ago when Arsenal won 7-3 at the Emirates.

It was a great game, Newcastle kept coming back to equalise before we killed the game, I remember Theo Walcott, in a purple patch, scoring a great goal at the end of the game to complete his hat-trick.

So yeah, I’d say that 7-3 match.

They were both strong sides at the time with some top players on show and great goalscorers like Giroud and Demba Ba.

Jack: Best player to play for both clubs? Mathieu Debuchy? Sol Campbell? Andy Cole? Malcom Macdonald?

Matt: Sol Campbell. Yes, I get he was past his best when he played for Newcastle! But at his best, he was an imperious defender and a club legend for us.

Jack: Oddly enough, Arsenal are yet to meet Newcastle since the pandemic and games going behind closed doors. How have you felt about the behind closed doors games?

Matt: I think they have had a very strange effect on some games without the presence of fans, but now I feel like it has become the norm, and the players and coaching staff have adapted.

For me, I have almost forgotten what a ground looks and feels like with fans there, as it has been so long now. It’s a sad state.

For the players, I actually think it has brought a better chance to concentrate and communicate with each other and it brings out the real nuts and bolts of the game.

Jack: Anyone you would sign for Arsenal from the current Newcastle Utd team?

Matt: I think Callum Wilson is a really good striker and a great signing for Newcastle.

I would definitely like him at Arsenal, he is a quick player who can score goals out of nothing. He is doing it for you as we saw him do it for Bournemouth.

Jack: Finally, what’s going to happen on Saturday night, who is going through to the 4th round? Score prediction?

Matt: The way things are at the moment, Arsenal’s youngsters have been playing with real freedom and fluidity and I think it is unfortunate for Newcastle that they have to play us at a point where they have found a bit of form.

It will be interesting to see the selection that Arteta goes with, Arsenal are now playing with a bit of fearlessness which I like.

This may be famous last words and I might be wrong…but I don’t believe Newcastle will bring much that could hurt us.

Especially as Steve Bruce doesn’t exactly inject an open and expansive threat to his teams.

I will say 2-0 to the Arsenal.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport

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