Back to domestic action for us this afternoon at Newcastle. One of the big questions will be whether or not being knocked out of European competition will have a negative effect on our game. Not only the disappointment but the amount of effort we put into the match on Tuesday. I'm not sure that the latter will be an issue but the former could well be a problem, therefore I expect Le boss to freshen the team up a little for the match.
The obvious contender for me has to be Alexis Sanchez who is clearly not at his best and seems in need of some butt on bench time. I watched an excellent video of his season so far and it was amazing to see quite the impact he had. He was a lot more productive back then and we need that during this important run in. The choice to rest him may have been easier had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain been available but a twang of the hammy means he is still unavailable. It could be a chance to give Theo Walcott a rare start though, still feels strange saying that after so many years of our speedster being an automatic starter. I would personally start Welbeck on the left to maintain that high energy and power and balance it out with Theo on the right.
Aaron Ramsey is in good form and is as fresh as a daisy so he has to start, how the rest of the midfield is constructed is anyone's guess though. Santi who was rested for the West Ham game is likely to also start fitness permitting.
Tomas Rosicky is an option for the manager again as the Czech returns to the squad after missing Monaco with sickness. So he could come in for Mesut Özil who gave everything until the very end on Tuesday night. I don't think that change will happen though given Mesut's good form of late. I also would not be surprised if Gabriel came back into the team once more. He had a little mini run of games before his injury at QPR and could come back into the side. I would have expected Koscielny to drop out but he has been in great form in recent weeks.
As far as Newcastle are concerned they are suffering with Arsenalitis, a well known disease well known by many Arsenal supporters. Apparently they have 13 or so first team players unavailable due to mainly injury. We have to make the most of that situation.
Mean Lean's Predicted Line Up:
Having just created the line up, I'm not sure if Theo will even start. If Arsene wants to play a 4-1-4-1 with both Ramsey and Santi starting then it only leaves space for one direct wide striker if Mesut continues in the team. I guess it totally depends on how Arsene sees the game. Is this a game where we can have three forwards on the pitch. Possibly so we shall see.
The other fixtures involving teams around us mean that we are unlikely to gain any ground today as Man City are at home to West Brom, Tottenham face Leicester City at home and Southampton play Burnley, also at home. But tomorrow the Mancs face the Scousers so victory today would see us gain ground on at least one of them.
I have asked a few questions to some Newcastle United fans in the new Opposition View section which is a great way to gauge the mood of the fan base. It is clear that many of them have very little confidence in their team this afternoon and I gotta say, it's making me feel rather complacent. As long as the players are not feeling that then that's fine as it is down to me to deal with whatever emotions I may have should we not pick up all three points.
But yes I am very confident of an Arsenal away win today which often comes back to bite me on the Arsenal. Hopefully not this time though.
You can read what a few Newcastle United supporters feel about today's game on today's Opposition view piece.
Back later with the usual match day stuff.