I have a bunch of mixed feelings going into this game this afternoon against the Geordies. We have had a confidence building victory in the Champions League along with the resting of some of our creaking legs so in theory the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and company should have an extra spring in their step. The likes of Lukas Podolski should feel ready for more football whether it be from the bench or given a surprise start. Those are all good feelings going into the game.
On the flipside our already ridiculous injury list is basically taking the Micky out of us. In true Arsenal fashion, we were given a sample of Aaron Ramsey back to his best only for him to be cruelly whipped away from us again. He had scored three goals in his last two games, you just know another was coming today. Ok, maybe that's a bit presumptuous but I could certainly see that happening. No chance of finding out though. But that is almost the least of our problems because our defence has been targeted by those pesky injury gods. Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal are both injured while Calum Chambers is suspended thanks to the crazy world of Anthony Taylor. You'd imagine it will be another mixture of experienced players out of positions along with young players who are not yet fully ready.
Arsene can either push Debuchy into central defence and use Bellerin at right back or go with untested (at this level) Semi Ajayi. I suspect he would rather the former. It's almost like a mini gamble at SuperCasino whichever option he chooses will be a slight risk.
While you can point to us being one light in central defence you cannot ignore the rotten luck that has fallen our way also. Just a quick glance at Chelsea who have very similar depth in defence shows the opposite end of the luck spectrum. I think their back four has been ever-present this season. How that club are allowed to have nice things in life is beyond me.
But our injury problems are not just restricted to our defence, our midfield has also been cruelly hit. I've already mentioned Ramsey above but the rest of our first choice options are out with injury. Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Özil all not available.
The other flipside is that Newcastle are in top form and full of confidence after inflicting the first defeat of the season on Chelsea. I love the way that club were playing down an unbeaten season but really you know they really wanted it. Back to Newcastle, they have really turned it all around after a lot of pressure was put on Alan Pardew.
They will want to have a go at our back line so that could lead to an open game of football. At least I hope so because our front line can hurt them, especially a rested Alexis.
What we cannot afford is more injuries and we cannot afford any dropped points given how quickly the home support are likely to turn so Arsenal, no pressure guys.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up
And just to point out how ridiculous our injury list (+ Chambers suspension) is at the moment, take a look at the players who are not available for today's game.
When it becomes difficult to predict what team you'd rather see start today you know things are not great. Well hopefully we can get through today with no more problems, get the three points and expect some players back shortly. Obviously there is the other side which I mentioned earlier so let's hope we get a bit of luck for once in that respect.
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Post match Podcast with @YankeeGunner, @Goonerfaithful49, @Poznaninmypants and guest @DBerry1974 who is a very funny writer on Gunners Town
'til later init.
For bonus reading, check out Your Vision - What On Earth Have We Become? by Jimmy Garcia