A test of aspiration and ability?

Pardew v Wenger
Pardew v Wenger
At the start of the season, if anyone had told me we’d be near on safe by the turn of the year I’d have pretty much laughed in their face.

On the back of a disappointing (perhaps an understatement?) campaign last season we were once again tipped to struggle with little investment in the summer transfer window in terms of outlay, only one player temporarily brought through the door with a few dependable squad players heading in the other direction.

But fast forward four months and that opening statement could well become reality should we manage to beat Arsenal on our own patch on Sunday. It will be tough but could a result against the Gunners set ourselves on the way to something greater this season?

Arsenal are one of the top sides in the league. They play a football that at times is breathtaking, spellbinding. In a small way the remind me of what we used to be like during the days of the entertainers but they do it with more technical ability than we ever did.

Facing up against a team like that is a true barometer of just how good we are and how far we could go this season. It’s not a given of course as we’re just as likely to beat Arsenal as we are to lose at home to an unfancied team, but there are definite signs of improvement this season, even when you look back at the season we managed to finish fifth in.

It’s the right kind of test for us. Yes we’ve won at Manchester United and Tottenham and beaten Chelsea on our own patch, but in a way they were games with no pressure. Now we have a healthy haul of points on the board and can tentatively look at the table with an eye on the “business end” of the campaign the pressure is starting to slowly build.

Arsene Wenger was the pioneer in bringing a Gallic influence to a football club when he did it at Arsenal all those years ago, but can we now show that the ideal he has moved away from still has a place in the modern day Premier League?

As I wrote in the headline, this is not just a test of ability, but also of aspirations.

About toonsy

A lifelong Newcastle fan and current webmaster of this very 'blog who has the sole aim of creating a place by Newcastle United fans, for Newcastle United fans.

63 thoughts on “A test of aspiration and ability?

  1. just read this tripe from Lawro on the bbc:
    “Newcastle’s win over Stoke came out of a bizarre game but they are one of the form teams in the country at the moment – only Manchester City have taken more points than them in their last six matches.

    This is another test for Arsenal, who are without the injured Aaron Ramsey, but I still think they are comfortable in these kind of games.

    Against the absolute top teams – like in their defeat by City or their draw with Chelsea – they have probably not quite got enough.

    But against the likes of Newcastle, I would always back them to win.

    Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

    ‘Against the likes of Newcastle’ – wtf โ“
    disrespectful ******. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ


  2. Everybody is in agreement that we struggled against stoke before the sending off.

    On paper, i would say that we started with a strong lineup. Certainly a lineup that should not struggle against stoke.

    So what we should be wondering is why did we struggle. Was it pardews team talk? Was it because stoke were scary? Was it tiredness?

    Iโ€™m of the opinion that it was tiredness.

    For some reason our players canโ€™t give 100% if they play 2 games a week. We had the same problem vs swansea & we had the same problem last season.

    The new fitness coach has done well in making sure we have no injuries but either we need to rotate the players more or the players need to be fitter.

    I want to see fitter players & squad rotation or else we will fade away as the season carries on


  3. Well clearly the biggest test of the season. The Chelsea win was good but they weren’t playing as good as Arsenal are now and weren’t top of the league.

    The interesting thing for me will be the team. We can assume Tiote will come back in but who for? Either HBA or Anita. Think it will be HBA but that reduces our attacking threat but it also gives us numbers in the middle.

    If we get a result, is it time to dream?


  4. I also want to see anita, tiote, sissoko, cabaye, gouffran & shola start vs arsenal on sunday.

    We need to control the centre of the pitch & thatโ€™s our strongest midfield.

    Iโ€™d want to see ameobi play because i think he will prove difficult for arsenal to handle.

    Hopefully shola, cabaye, sissoko, gouffran will threaten arsenals goal & then maybe later on bring on ben arfa & one of either cisse or remy (not sure who yet).

    Gouffran will be one of those that gets subbed because he usually runs out of energy.


  5. We won at Manchester United = good result & deserved victory but no rooney or ferguson. This man utd team isn’t at the same level as previous teams so they are not the test that they once were.

    Tottenham = good result but also a very very fortunate result. We really should have lost by a big margin but somehow krul kept us in it. In previous seasons we haven’t been so lucky & we have been on the end of a spurs hammering.

    Chelsea = another good result but chelsea aren’t at the same level (yet) as arsenal this season. Add to that the fact that chelsea should have been 2 or 3 up before halftime but we still won.

    I would say man city was the biggest test so far this season & we failed.

    Chelsea was also a real test. We were fortunate in that game & in any one off game, any team can beat any other team.

    Liverpool was arguably a harder test than chelsea & possibly harder than arsenal on sunday. We spent most of the game with 10 men vs a dangerous team that likes to play posession football.

    We should have expected to lose but it was a fantastic team performance. I think that second half vs liverpool might have been our best so far this season.


  6. Agree this is a real tough test, but not one we should be afraid of.
    So long as we marshal Walcott out of the game, then I think we have a chance.
    Seriously, we have some great players ourselves.
    I wont be disappointed with a draw, but I think we can actually shock them.
    Of course if we aren’t ‘up’ for it or start off like we did against stoke, then obviously we’ll take another humping.
    But I just got a funny feeling Pardew will have a plan for this one, and the false start against stoke will help.
    Howay the Lads.


  7. Lol @stuart

    He’s a decent player. I just think he needs a run of games to show us his skill. He’s got good touches and a good finish.

    In a one off game he can use his strength. I think we could use him as the sole striker up front as we really need as many people in the middle as possible.

    If we play with one up front, who is the best player to keep hold of the ball long enough for the midfield to join any attack? Cisse, Remy or Ameobi?

    I would think Ameobi but i’m not sure of the stats


  8. btw KK, the manc ****ty game was tainted by the Cabaye debacle or are you talking about the cup game?


  9. Yep, agree with you bb.

    Now is a good time to play arsenal. They’ve played a lot of games. We’re at home with a fully fit squad. They have an injured ramsay.

    Rumours suggest wenger will rotate the team which could mean an easier team?


  10. arsenal still my tip to win the title but think we can give them a good run for the money meself on sunday, and with there standout player so far this season out of the game,i think we can win this game meself.Ozil will need to be watched though


  11. Well Tiote has to start for me, but benny gives them something else to think of too.
    equally we need a goal scorer on the pitch, so that disqualifies shola, yet he offers us strength up front which both Remy and Cisse are lacking.
    Decisions indeed


    i think losing caybeye right before the game might have had something to do with the result at man city, but we aint the only team to of lost there this season,man city are awesome at home but when they played in the cup at our place i thought we were unlucky not to win that meself,i dont think man city have the stomach for a good fight away from home which is why i dont think they will win the title


  13. I see the Angry Welshman is being charged with improper conduct from the FA. Good, he deserves it for his tirade behind the Referees back that the 4th official obviously heard and then claiming it was for kicking a ball in his interviews. Tit.


  14. Even more disgusting when you think he was actually employed by Newcastle United as a defensive coach at one point by KK. The whole lot of the Liverpool humpers can **** off, really boil my piss they do. Dogleash also. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


  15. Hoping that home advantage helps us but fearing the worse tbh, I think they will win the league this year as they are better than Chelsea, Manure and Liverpool who rely heavily on Suarez imo ,only City have a realistic chance to beat them to it. No Ramsey is a big plus for us and we have Tiote back who I think we missed on boxing day. I wonder if he’ll start Podolski , he looked good when he brought him on, on boxing day and made a big difference to the outcome of their game. Goofy must start as the lad just loves to run and score too it seems, and Remy has to start but I wouldn’t start Benny but bring him on later if we aren’t struggling. One things for sure I would think Cabs will play out his skin as he’ll want to show Arsene he’s better than an ‘ expensive sub’ ๐Ÿ˜‰


  16. โ€œThere was no common sense applied and I donโ€™t think either of the yellow cards for Glenn Whelan were deserved.”
    โ€œThe performance of the referee and his officials was a disgrace and we will certainly be complaining to the relevant authorities.”

    Nobody back-chats the FA referees like that and gets away with it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (and don’t we know it)


  17. hope the gob****e gets a touchline ban
    sore loser and a full time prick.
    It’s amazing how he so easily forgets all the times the dodgy decisions have gone in his crap teams favour.
    Ban him now and Rodgers too ๐Ÿ˜†


  18. The Welsh tw@t even said it should not have been a penalty ,he said Remy was using his arm too much and went down too easily โ— ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜† the guy has lost it completely.


  19. @KK

    ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜›
    Shola good finisher? ๐Ÿ˜†

    Now you’re talking my sense of humour. ๐Ÿ˜›


  20. KK,
    If Shola can put in the performances he has done recently (excluding Stoke because he was aweful even against nine men). Then yes I’d say he’s the right option against Arsenal. Problem is there’s always an IF with him because 80% of the time he doesn’t deliver and even when he does he isn’t a goal threat but more of an irritation for the oppostion.

    I see on the previous thread I finally found someone who agrees with me about Ben Arfa not suiting our front three because he doesn’t do enough work to get into box and support or get into goal scoring positions (from off the ball). He only wants to do it by running with the ball at his feet.

    This generally leaves us short of options up front and narrows the team making us one dimensional because he drifts into the centre of the park too much and always has to take on players rather than playing a quick ball when its the better option.

    He was superb against Stoke when they went down to nine men because he had tons of space and nobody to mark him or anybody else making runs into their area. Unfortunately most times, he is simply on a different wave length to everyone else in the team and despite always looking quality and skillful on the ball. He often destroys momentum and team dynamic. The odd wonder goal disguises this fact to some degree but IMO he needs to do far more leg work and leave the fancy stuff to when its necessary. If he’ll ever learn that ๐Ÿ˜

    Got slated for saying that yesterday, but its the truth. We need more men in the box at home. 11 man Arsenal is a totally difference prospect to 9 man Stoke.

    I’d like to see a front two of Remy and Gouff to start.

    Then a midfield of Tiote (deep and banned from long shots), Sissoko on the right but driving forward, Cabaye controlling midfield and Anita with his movement and energy always offering the back four cover and an exit pass.

    Back four I’d be tempted to rest Willo because he will not cope with the page of Walcott. I’d go for Colo and Mbiwa, with Santon and Debuchy as full backs.

    Elliot, Cisse, Shola, Ben Arfa, Willo, Taylor, Hadaira all options from the bench. ๐Ÿ˜†


  21. DJG – It’s because Lawrenson is bitter about his time with us. He spent years **** talking our defence on MOTD then was offered a chance by Keegan to walk the walk instead of talking the talk and made no difference before leaving.


  22. Also on Liverpool fans…. spent all season listening to them wanking then they lose Boxing Day and not a peep.


  23. I would love to see Cisse start to see if he can find his magic again ,
    As for Strolla starting I dont really see the point as IMO its good having a striker that can cause problems, hold the ball up etc but they need to be banging even the odd goal in as after all that is what there job is.


  24. Dave I agree Shola is a good irritation factor around the box but he doesn’t score enough unless it’s the Mackems :mrgreen: . I would quite like to see Cisse get a nice chunk of game time but Remy has to start and so does Goofy who is bang in form at present. As for Benny I would introduce him later if we are comfortable as he’ll draw plenty onto him and if he can use his head and make the killer pass to someone better placed that would be perfect .I ‘m inclined to stick with the same back four, though I would consider Haidara at LB as Santon looked poor on Boxing day ,only thing is Haidara’s crossing wasn’t that special the other day either, maybe because he was getting hacked at though ๐Ÿ˜•


  25. Hopefully being up against a more technically gifted side we won’t see so many poor challenges and it should be a good game, also hope we get a good ref who lets the game flow . Arsenal started very slow on boxing day and frankly looked poor until Podolski was introduced who completely changed their game and I think he’ll start tomorrow and I reckon he’ll be a big problem .I suppose it rests on how much tinkering with the team Arsene does and how much our lads are up for it, Cabs defo has a point to prove having been branded an expensive sub by Wenger during that transfer fiasco in the summer. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    We could well snatch a point here if we keep our wits about us but lose concentration and we’ll be thrashed imo.


  26. Kim I think some of Benny’s passing against Stoke was real pinpoint stuff, I really think he should be a starter as he can cause so much trouble and has more of a threat to score than Strolla could ever dream off


  27. Dave, I’m really not sure about starting him though I agree his passing was much improved on boxing day , I do know I don’t want Shola to start though.


  28. plus Kim, Hairdryer just hasn’t had enough game time yet.
    So is bound to be a tad rusty.
    I would still be inclined to go with Santoon, but he has to defend better and not get lost up field when attacking.
    Walcott is a major problem for us I feel and needs to be kept quiet somehow.


  29. Kim I do agree that some games Benny mightnt be the best choice, but at home against a footballing side I would start him.
    But I do understand that he wouldnt be everyones name to start.


  30. Don’t think Benny did enough to warrant a start.
    He was ok against 9 but Arsenal wont give him the same time and space.


  31. BB ( Walcott is a major problem for us ) I agree 100% but I am sure they would think that Benny would be a problem for them, but we generally think about how to stiffle there problem players , but imo we need to think about causeing them problems


  32. Dave – I just think he is a luxury player to bring on when we are going well.
    Agree that he gives teams something to think about, but they generally double up on him and nullify his game, which more often than not makes him look a **** as he cant cope with that and just gives away possession.
    Perhaps if he would try passing the ball to his own team some more it would help


  33. Spot on BB they double up on him leaving more space for Remy Goofy.etc.
    As for his passing as was said his passing was pinpoint so maybe he has learnt, but we would need to try him again to see if he has learnt.


  34. aye fair do’s
    I just wouldn’t be trying to find out in this game is all.
    Have to say its not all that easy for Pardew if I’m honest ๐Ÿ˜‰


  35. wtf is going on at Cardiff โ“ ๐Ÿ‘ฟ
    Just about gifted the filth 3 points this afternoon.
    Rumour is Mr Tan is picking the team himself ๐Ÿ˜†
    I thought the fat controller was bad, but this ****head takes the biscuit
    What a plum.


  36. BB, at least Mr Tan is not getting away with free advertising! ! ๐Ÿ‘ฟ horrid crime that is, wait till we start losing a couple of games, then it will be even more horrid! ๐Ÿ˜†


  37. @Aussie

    I see what you did there. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Very, very clever. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You wrote it such a way that it came across as if Ashley is a horrid man for allowing himself free advertising for SD. But you really meant you didn’t give a f@”k about the free advertising and you were having a dig at those who do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Ver very clever. ๐Ÿ˜†

    I’ll have to keep my beady eye on you in the future in case you try and pull any more of those clever tricks. ๐Ÿ˜›

    There’s nothing predictable about you Aussie. ๐Ÿ˜›


  38. @Aussie

    I’ve caught you again!! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Starting to become wise to you now. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    You’re very astute Aussie. Very, very astute ๐Ÿ˜›


  39. The great thing about Ashley is, he’s listened to the real fans. He’s started to understand that Pards needed time to get the team spirit back again.

    I will forgive anyone as long as they listen to common sense. We are a special bunch of people and Mikey is welcome to join us. Only one stipulation. He abides by the rules of the Reality Train Crew Football Kowledge Act 2007. ๐Ÿ˜›


  40. ๐Ÿ˜‰ how was your xmas Troy? Hope all is well with you and yours!
    I have decided to take it easy on you come the new year, I may even let you out the back of my ute for a little bit :mrgreen:


  41. @Aussie

    Had a great Crippa like. Proper belter! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Got some new spring loaded stilts for my Jackat (half Jack Russell half cat).

    She can now keep up with me whilst I’m on mine. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Got to say Aussie. I’ve found you a bit of a bully with me in 2013. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    Your Yoot is full of interesting things mind I must say. Do you know the kangaroo that’s trussed up in a gimp mask that you take for daily half hour exercise? Is that normal? It’s just me being a Brit, I only ever see them hopping wild and they don’t have gimp masks. Just a bit confused about it all Aussie? ๐Ÿ™‚


  42. Its you being a brit Troy and let’s face it, you always seem a little confused! Did you get a nice present from B&B ? ๐Ÿ˜†


  43. @Aussie

    Yeah. I got a lovely gift from B&B.
    Another pile of ****e email that I was copied into as it was sent to my mother. ๐Ÿ™„

    All related to football and questions he reckons I haven’t answered. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    You couldn’t write a 25 page letter about it. Or maybe you could. ๐Ÿ˜›


  44. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ **** me, he isn’t letting it go is he! You can be frustrating tho… but only about 2 pages worth not 25 :mrgreen:


  45. I do think M’biwa should start tomorrow because Colocini might be a bit tired. Hadara for Santon and Toite for Sissoko. I’m hoping for a great victory over Arsenal.


  46. <<<<<<<<<<<, would not start afra meself arsenal are more savy than stoke and arsenal will just put bodies into the space hes ganna run so he will get the ball taken off him a lot,and the last thing ya need is them geting a lot of counter attacks from it


  47. <<<<<<<<<<<<, thinks whichever team wins the battle in midfield,will win the game ๐Ÿ˜Ž


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