Date:Saturday August 30 2008
A difficult test awaits Arsenal today versus Newcastle at the Emirates. This is certainly not the team that laid down in the foetal position in both matches against Manchester United last season. Arsenal will need to continue their very impressive form they displayed against FC Twente midweek if they are going to get all three points out of this game.
After resting some of his players against the Dutch side, Arsene will most likely put Adebayor and Toure back in the starting line-up at the expense of Djourou and Bendtner. Eboue might have to settle for a place on the bench because it would be unfair to drop Theo after his sparkling display and well taken goal against Twente.
Arsene Wenger addressed the criticism his team is receiving. "For me success is consistency," remarked Wenger on Friday. "I believe that the most important thing to achieve in the game is to be consistent at the top level and move forward in the way you play and with your results.
"Last year we made a big move forward compared to the season before. We got 83 points last year, that would have won the title in the whole of Europe but not here as one team made 87 and another 85. But we were very close.
"At the moment, we have to swim a bit against the stream as we get only negative vibes. But it's a good test, we have to be strong enough to keep our belief even if everyone around our environment does not believe in us."
Kevin Keegan commented on the difficult away trip. 'You know when you go there [the Emirates Stadium], like Old Trafford and Anfield and just about every place in the Premiership to be honest, you've got to stand up and be counted.
'You've got to have the courage to play and whatever team I put out, with injuries, there'll be a lot of personnel missing who would normally play and the other players have got to stand up and be counted.'
Good news is there are no new injuries to report, as the same squad for the Twente game is available for this game. Diaby, Rosicky, Bischoff, and Eduardo are all still out, while who knows what is going on with Silvestre.
After recovering from a sickness that prevented him from playing in the second half, Samir Nasri will be ready to continue to impress for his new team. In two and a half games the Frenchman has scored 2 goals. One more goal and he will equal his predecessor`s total of goal tally of last season in 3. And that took Alex Hleb thirty-eight appearances to amass.
Newcastle have many injuries throughout the squad but defensively they still seem to be in good shape. Midfield troublemaker Joey Barton could make his first start since his jail release and Michael Owen could start as well. Geremi, Obafemi Martins, Mark Viduka, Damien Duff, Claudio Cacapa and Andy Carroll are all out for the Tyneside club.
The Argentinean defender, who signed from Deportivo La Coruna, was very impressive when I saw him against Manchester United on opening day. He played a key part in preserving the tie, and he will need to be on his best again for Newcastle to take points out of this match.
Newcastle lost all three trips to the Emirates Stadium last year in three different competitions by a total aggregate score of 8-0.
Emmanuel Adebayor has scored four goals in Arsenal's last three league and cup matches against Newcastle - all last season.
Cesc Fabregas will be making his 200th appearance in an Arsenal shirt.
Arsenal are unbeaten in six league and cup matches against Newcastle.
Rob Styles will be the head official for the match. Last season he averaged 3.44 yellow cards a games and he had a .44 red card average.
Newcastle will be a tough test as King Kev has improved the defensive side of his club, but with the injuries elsewhere I expect a 2-0 win for Arsenal. Adebayor and Walcott to score.
Blackburn(A) Premier League 13/9
Dynamo Kiev(A) Champions League 17/9
Bolton(A) Premier League 20/9
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Date:Saturday August 30 2008
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