The games are coming thick and fast, but they aren’t getting any easier as ‘The Opposition Opinion’ returns once again this week with the thoughts of an Arsenal fan ahead of our tough trip to the Emirates tomorrow afternoon.
Here we’re looking to bring you a view from the other side before each and every game this season, interviewing an opposing fan to gain their opinions on NUFC, some insights into their own club and their thoughts on of our upcoming match.
This week I’ve been speaking to Arsenal fan Dan (@Dan_KhanUP) whose had the following to say ahead of tomorrow’s 3pm kick off:
Q1) What have you made of your season so far? I’m keen to know what sort of shape you feel you’re coming into tonight’s game in?
“This season, unexpectedly has become a bit symptomatic of the disappointment from last season.
“It’s been very tough to see us struggle away from home like we have been and our lack of changes against West Ham (despite dominating) has started to cast more doubts in my mind about top 4, which at the start of the season I thought would be a very strong possibility.”
Q2) What do you make of our start to the season & Newcastle’s current side? Who do you see as our threats & is there any weak links in our team that you feel you can exploit?
“With Newcastle, I always feel the club lives and dies on its reputation as a big English club. It’s easy to forget that Newcastle are a newly promoted team and survival no matter how tight, would be a clear success. Mind you, having a coach like Rafa must make t hard to not want to push on to that next level.
“I think the current team is 1 or 2 quality signings away from being the Newcastle that you all want. For me, you’re a creative maestro in the middle, and a born goal scorer up top away from being able to push for top 10.
“I’ve always seen Ayoze Perez as the guy that on his day can change things for Newcastle. He seems to have that natural quality above others in the squad even though his performances might not show it sometime.
“I’m a big fan of Shelvey but having said that in crucial moments he can lose his head with rash tackles and even sometimes go for the Hollywood ball in times when Newcastle need to keep the ball and maintain pressure.
“Mitro seems to be a fan favourite but I’m not convinced he’s the guy to get the goals when you need them most.”
Q3) Likewise, who do you feel are the strengths & weaknesses in your Arsenal side – any players (aside from the obvious!) for us to watch out for tonight for any particular reason?
“Strengths in arsenal: At the moment we seem to be a team that isn’t sure what it wants to do with itself this season, but or strengths are obvious, having said that – for me, a solid performance from Koscielny and Nacho Monreal seems to spur us on as a team that likes building from the back.”
“What can I say about Sanchez and Ozil that hasn’t already been said. World class. Superstars. And funnily enough I think the Premier League would rate them higher if they weren’t at Arsenal!
“For me, giving them all they want financially and otherwise is crucial. They’re good enough to demand that and losing one or both of them would be 2 steps back for us for sure. Having said that, if I had to lose one, I would reluctantly bid farewell to Sanchez, who is the best arsenal player I’ve seen since Henry. I say that because, a skill full pacey winger who scores goals can be found around the world, and even if we don’t get a like for like replacement, we should be able to get someone in to slightly fill the void (Douglas Costa, even Mahrez!) – but to replace someone as talented as Ozil would be difficult. He could find a shadow in the dark, he’s brilliant. To build the team around him is the most important thing for us.”
“Arsenal’s exploitation of opposition weakness solely depends on Arsenal. If we turn up, then our dominance in the middle and out wide will be too much for you. If we fail to score in the first half, then it becomes a case of giving Newcastle confidence to catch us on the break. You guys have players capable of hurting us in those situations.”
“Any signs of panic or uncertainty at the back more often than not unnerves our general play.”
Q4) What sort of game do think it will be and how do you see it panning out? Score prediction?
“Ever optimistic and always emotional when it comes to predicting arsenal games, but I think this will be the win we’re looking for after a loss and two draws.
“I think Newcastle will come to battle and won’t fold under pressure, but in the end I’m going for 2-0, with perhaps a 3rd coming late on to flatter us”
Q5) How do you see both sides faring over the remainder of the season? Predictions for rough league position?
“I’m hoping for Arsenal’s classic strong end to the season, so we can push on. Ultimately another year outside the top 4 would be a disaster and a sure fire way to lose our best talent.
“I’ve got my eye on the Europa league to be honest as I genuinely feel with a bit of luck through the knock out stages we can get in to the quarters and from there can bring in the big guns to push us through. Offer me the Europa league trophy and 5th now and I’ll bite your hand off.
“As for Newcastle, I feel like inconsistency may stop you from pushing forward up the table, but I have no doubts you’ll be here next season.
“If this proposed take over comes through, it could be a very exciting time to be a Geordie. I say you’ll finish 14th.”
Q6) Shay Given recently said in an interview that he’d love to see someone like Alexis Sanchez at NUFC if a takeover went through. It was a throw away comment of course, but with a big money buyout said to be ‘close’, what are your thoughts on NUFC’s potential to mix it with the big boys under new ownership?
“I’ve always said Newcastle are a BIG money take over away from being a club that can threaten the landscape of the established top 6.
“50,000 seats sold out each week. A brilliant history and a top coach. It’s pretty much got everything in place for someone to throw money at it and attract players of a higher quality than before.
“It’s a great time to be a Premier League club because team like West Brom and Watford have shown they can attract players from PSG and Juventus. If they can, Newcastle can certainly too.”
Q7) Alexandre Lacazette – Our old chief scout Graham Carr was a big fan of his during his earlier days at Lyon but Mike Ashley & co. ‘baulked’ at his £16m asking price back in 2014. Considering you’ve recently paid over treble that, it really does look like ‘the one that got away’ for NUFC. What have you made of him so far?
Lacazette seems to have obvious quality and, at times, the front three of Alexis Lacca and Ozil are so fluid and dangerous it’s amazing.
“At other times though, I don’t seem as convinced.
When we first signed him I heard talk of “we finally found our 25-30 league goal striker” – and I wasn’t convinced. We’d bought top scorers from the French league before and it hasn’t turned out how we wanted.
“I am content with Lacazette and Giroud fighting for a place though because I think you’ll struggle to find too many better 1st and 2nd choice strikers in the league as a combination.”
A good little insight from Dan here.
Whilst containing their attacking flair seems like the most obvious mission tomorrow, it seems that unsettling their back four and disrupting their initial play could unnerve the frustrated home crowd.
Dan also makes a great point regarding a potential takeover. With Watford signing Juventus’ Pereyra recently and West Brom bringing in PSG’s Krychowiak, we have the potential to attract real talent with ambitious new owners and Benitez on board.
We’ll be back next week with the thoughts of a West Ham fan ahead of our crucial trip to the London Stadium.
A big performance is needed tomorrow – here’s hoping we don’t disgrace ourselves and perhaps even come away with an unlikely result.