Writer: Nick Simmonett
Date:Tuesday December 4 2007
St James' Park
Arsenal travel to the North East on Wednesday to face the club in a mini crisis - Newcastle.
Rumours of unrest amongst the players and staff have added to Fat Sam's trouble's after fans started to let the manager know they are not best pleased with the way things are going.
However, as much as I can't stand Sam Alladyce, he's the sort of manager that can take this sort of situation and use it to his advantage.
They are in desperate need of a win after taking just one point from a possible 15. Their last win came in October when they beat (you guessed it), Spurs.
Arsenal, on the other hand, have won 11 out of a possible 14 games, dropping points only to Blackburn, Liverpool and Manchester United.
Both teams have injury worries, but more on that in a minute.
Despite their poor recent form, Newcastle still sit 7 points outside the relegation zone, having played a game less than all the teams below them. That said, they are 18 points behind Arsenal, and 9 points away from a European place.
How ironic that it should be Joey Barton that slams someone as 'vicious' but that's just what happened earlier this week when the Newcastle midfielder spoke of his employers fans: 'I've not yet seen the famous crowd I was expecting to hear get behind us.
'Instead it has been vicious; I don't think I've heard a crowd that vicious.'
'Last Saturday I was sitting on the bench - and after 20 minutes I had picked up on it. It shocked me.
'The fans want success and they want it straight away, but unless they change that mentality and start supporting the side through poor results then things won't change.
'Unless there's a massive change, it's going to be the same for this manager, the next manager and whoever comes in after that.
'If it continues, when the manager goes for players, they will go somewhere else rather than jump in the frying pan.
'Sam's a good manager. He's getting the brunt of the criticism but doesn't deserve it. Not many managers can turn a club round in five minutes.'
Arsenal defender Gael Clichy spoke to Arsenal.com about the game at Newcastle and Arsenal's title aspirations: 'Everyone showed at Aston Villa that we have the desire to do something good this year.
'Like the boss has said we have quality and big strength in the squad, now we must carry on like this.
'All of us think we can do something at Newcastle, as for being champions it is a bit early. We still have plenty of games. This is a big week for us we know but we have Chelsea and Tottenham coming up too.
'I think we can do something this season but let’s just look at this game at Newcastle at the moment.
'Being top of the League is a great pleasure but since the start of the season I said we had great quality in the team and the spirit was there. Now we are in December and we have shown people that we are ready.
'We know we can do it [beat Newcastle] and we’ll go there to make it happen. If we go with desire and spirit we know we can get three points.'
Newcastle will be short in defence when Arsenal visit on Wednesday. Faye, Carr and Cacapa are all out, while Steven Taylor faces a fitness test.
England striker Michaael Owen is also still missing for the Toon, along with Duff.
Despite not having the best season to date, Martins can trouble any defence on his day. Indeed, he gave Arsenal something of a rough time when he faced us in the Champions League for Inter Milan.
Arsenal's own injury list has grown further. Flamini and Alex Hleb have joined Diaby, Van Persie and Fabregas.
Denilson returns for Arsenal and could step in to midfield.
Both Rio Ferdinand and John Terry said he was their toughest opponent last season. Having made massive improvments since then, and sitting top of the Premierleague scoring charts, he has to be considered one of the best strikers in the league.
With a 5-4-1 formation likely he'll have to hold up the ball well.
Mike Dean will oversee the match. If I'm not mistaken, he and Barton have something of a history?
It'll be a tough game, and both teams fortune couldn't be more different so far this season, but I think Newcastle will edge it. 2-1 Newcastle.
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Date:Tuesday December 4 2007
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