Arsenal (A) Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

“The gloves are off now… I’m going to do it my way. Okay, we’ve played a certain way to try to make sure we get the results that we need. It’s pragmatic. But I’ve said from day one the way I wanted to play – more on the front foot. I haven’t done it enough. It’s something I’ve toyed with since I’ve been at the club and, for me, to change is sometimes difficult for them. “We all like being comfortable. I’m going to do it the way I see fit.”

These were Steve Bruce’s comments from his Friday morning press conference after calling our performance at Sheffield United “absolutey *****” and “frigging hopeless”.

He’s lost the plot and is well and truly rattled by the criticism he’s been forced to accept over the past week, but will he actually follow up on his promises this time around?

We’ve been hearing that we’re a “work in progress” and that he wants to get us playing a “certain way” for 18 months now, yet he’s constantly fell back on a five-man defence, thrown the ability of his players under the bus and made excuses for our inability to play this ‘attacking football’ he claims to offer if it was down to him.

Well Steve, let’s see what you’ve got at Arsenal on Monday!

His amateurish comments on Friday stunk of a man under pressure and failing to cope with it, so the big test now will be how he changes it and how the players respond to his criticism and Tuesday’s abysmal effort.

Team news

  • Federico Fernandez – “We’ve got a problem with Federico” were Steve Bruce’s comments in Friday’s presser, suggesting the Argentine will be forced to sit out this one.
  • Jamal Lewis– Bruce has confirmed that he’s back in training and in contention to return after missing our last few.
  • Ryan Fraser – Serving a one-game suspension after being sent off at Sheffield United for two stupid yellows.
  • Allan Saint-Maximin – Back in light training but this one will come too soon for the Frenchman, sadly!
  • Paul Dummett – Walked off gingerly at Bramall Lane but Bruce insists it was a ‘precautionary’ measure from tiredness, NOT a muscle injury.

For The Gunners, Kieran Tierney faces a late fitness test, centre-back Pablo Mari has been ruled out, Gabriel Martinelli (ankle) is a doubt and Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey are pushing for recalls.

Predicted line up

(4-4-2): Darlow – Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis – Murphy, Hayden, M Longstaff, Ritchie – Carroll, Wilson.

OUT – Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Hendrick, S Longstaff and Fraser

IN – Krafth, Lascelles, Lewis, M Longstaff, Murphy, Ritchie and Carroll.

Bruce said he’s doing it “his way” now, so you can only assume that’s him dropping ‘Benitez’s back five’ and having a go.

Darlow did nothing wrong against Sheffield United and kept us in it at times, so he doesn’t deserve to be dropped. That said, Dubravka did nothing wrong when we played Arsenal in the cup…

With Fernandez struggling and Schar not trusted by Bruce in a back four, I can see a fit-again Lascelles partnering the reliable Clark.

At full-back Yedlin often struggles in a four and Manquillo (our best RB for me) has been off the scene ever since he got COVID, so Krafth could well come in – a player who Bruce has picked quite a few times when he’s gone with a back four.

Down the left, Dummett’s display at Sheffield United and withdrawal through fatigue could pave the way for Lewis – the £15m man who’s been tipped to return by Bruce after a few weeks out with a swollen knee.

In midfield, Sean Longstaff and Hendrick will surely drop out after dire displays at Bramall Lane, so I can see Matty coming back to give us that energy we’ve lacked and partnering Hayden. Shelvey has been spotted in training but his recent groin issues and absence from the side makes me wonder if he’s still not fully fit – something that wouldn’t make him suited to a two-man midfield tasked to protect a four-man defence!

Out wide, Ritchie may be seen as someone who can put palls into the box and offer some protection to Lewis, while Murphy’s impressive cameo from the bench at Arsenal last weekend makes me wonder if Bruce will give him a chance from the off here.

Up top, Wilson is nailed on and he could well be joined by Carroll. The latter had his best game in a black and white shirt for many a year in the FA Cup clash and will be gunning to make up for those misses that could and should have sent us through on another day.

The Opposition

Here’s a few ones to watch in Arteta’s Arsenal side:

Emile Smith-Rowe – Scored their all important opener in extra time when we met last weekend. A talented young player who is playing with real confidence in an attacking midfield role.

David Luiz – Back in the side in Mari’s absence and always has a mistake in him. Hopefully he has an off day here and we can take full advantage this time!

Kieran Tierney – Is an injury doubt, but could give them a huge boost if he’s back. Krafth, Yedlin and Murphy all failed to cope with his pace and energy down their left-hand side in the cup.


We can’t get any worse, but we’ll have to be SO much better here to have any joy against a much improved Arsenal side who’ve showed real signs of a revival in recent weeks.

I have no idea what’s coming. I’m hoping we’ll hit back with a surprise result, but Bruce’s comments can’t do much for the confidence or morale of a squad that have already been showing worrying signs of no longer playing for the manager.

This one will give us a very good idea if he’s lost the dressing room totally or has a a team ready to respond. A bit of both and ultimately another defeat feels likely to me, sadly.

PredictionArsenal 2-1 Newcastle


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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan, he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC!

62 thoughts on “Arsenal (A) Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

  1. I reckon Dummett will start. He has had from Tues to Mon to recover. I also think Miggy will be ahead of Ritchie. Apart from that I agree and I definitely think Carroll will start. At least that should keep Joelinton on the bench.

    Still waiting for notice from somebody of who we might get on loan. From you Olly. The Chronic. The Atlantic. Lee Charnley. Ant and Dec. Anybody…


  2. Bruce saying he is going to do it his way from now on, what were 2 false 10s if not his way? Has anybody ever heard of another Manager reference a false 10, never mind 2 of them. I am still not sure if I know what a false 9 is? Does it mean that they are not playing like a traditional hold up/back to goal number 9? That went out years ago for a lot of teams.

    Anyway, Bruce is making absolutely no sense now and I think the job is getting to him. His excuses are getting comical now and he blames everybody but himself. He is getting like Donald Trump. They have done some fact checking on the Orange Man-Baby and concluded that he averaged 50 provable lies every day he was in office. Thankfully, Bruce’s press conferences are short otherwise he might attempt to catch him up.


  3. I’m about as excited for tonight’s game as a turkey is who’s seen Bernard Matthew’s starting at it.


  4. Well, god only knows what Steve will do tonight, he’s got to walk to walk after that little outburst.


  5. I have looked at a few other NUFC websites who have looked at Bruce’s former jobs because he has been talking about his CV recently. He has been remarkably consistent in being hated by the fans and his PL record mirrors that at NUFC – roughly 1 point per game, 1 goal per game and a 30% win rate. That says to me that he has played mind numbingly boring football everywhere he has been.

    The NUFC blogs have anecdotal evidence from fans describing the pattern of him blaming everybody but himself. It starts with him wanting to play on the front foot, then blaming fixtures/schedule, then the fans’ histrionics and then blaming the players. The Mackems and Villains seem particularly vitriolic, as well they should. He went on death spirals with both teams and then another Manager came in and with exactly the same players got them out of trouble or in Villa’s case promoted.

    I think there is a lesson here for Ashley. A better/different manager could save our season. He cant wait too long like he did with McClaren. All he has to do is look at Bruce’s CV as the man himself says we all should.


  6. Blaming the previous manager for team tactics when you are 18 months in the job must be a 1st in world football management though.


  7. There are 3 scenarios tonight:

    Same old, same old. This is most likely even if Bruce changes the players and formation. The usual 9-0-1 and a 1 nil or 2 nil loss.

    A hammering. Bruce’s tactical niavete is exposed as he imparts his new “master plan”.

    We look better and scrape either a draw or narrow loss. Bruce is all smug afterwards in a told-you-so way even though he has been picking the team and tactics for 18 months.

    I know I shouldnt be, but I am as interested in Bruce’s reaction as the result. I sort of want us to lose so Bruce is further exposed because I know nothing will change if we keep him. His record speaks for itself.


  8. Eric Sykes:
    Blaming the previous manager for team tactics when you are 18 months in the job must be a 1st in world football management though.

    Eric – I don’t think he was mate. It felt more like he was blaming the players for wanting to stick with the old formation, reluctant to adapt to the changes he wanted to bring in.

    He’s made a big bold statement through the week though, so I’m going to be interested to see what changes he makes & how the players respond.


  9. If he goes 4-4-2 against this Arsenal team though I think we’ll end up getting a bl00dy good hiding – especially if it’s the 11 Olly predicts above.


  10. Wilshere to B’mth on 6 month deal which is a big relief as some NUFC fans were calling for us to go for him.


  11. Eric Sykes:
    Wilshere to B’mth on 6 month deal which is a big relief as some NUFC fans were calling for us to go for him.

    Eric – we could do a lot worse than a fit Jack Whilshire mate.


  12. I suspect Steve Bruce’s way is exactly the same way as we have seen the last 18 months. Nothing will change. We will defend deep, give them the majority of the ball and lose tamely as usual.


  13. Sharpy17: Eric – we could do a lot worse than a fit Jack Whilshire mate.

    If you were looking for someone to lie on the treatment table.

    Also, he has lost a step with all of his injuries. He has been the same for at least 3 years where once he could take players on now he just runs into them and he doesnt have the Grealish ability to make it look like a foul.


  14. We are now on 5/2 to go down. I think that Sheffield game changed a lot of peoples’ opinions. Funny how a lot of pundits are now backtracking. Confirms everybody’s opinion that they hadnt actually watched our games and just looked at points on the board.


  15. I am also not sure what Bruce is talking about when he big ups the Liverpool game. Yes we did show some resolve but we probably should have lost 4 nil. If their strikers were their usual selves that would have been the score. It was like Spurs where you have a Darlow miracle and a dodgy penalty and Bruce acts like it is a defensive masterclass.


  16. What’s criminal though is there are players like Eriksen & Ramsey desperate for first team football & would walk into our team and make a huge impact … if only we had an owner with any sort of ambition or interest


  17. Eric Sykes: If you were looking for someone to lie on the treatment table.

    Also, he has lost a step with all of his injuries. He has been the same for at least 3 years where once he could take players on now he just runs into them and he doesnt have the Grealish ability to make it look like a foul.

    I did say fit.

    Even without pace, he still has a better vision and ability to make those passes than the likes of Hendrick or Longstaff.
    Shelvey tries to smash a 60yrd quarterback pass where Whilshire tends to thread passes through the defensive lines better.

    Major issues over his fitness I agree and as my last post just said – there are some top players needing first team football which are way out of our grasp – shouldn’t be, but defo are.


  18. Sharpy mate, I cannot think of who we could get on loan. The market seems to have dried up, but that is our only option and it is already January 18 with a flurry of games to come because of the rearranged Villa game. WE HAVE 6 GAMES BETWEEN TODAY AND FEB 6. That wouldnt be a big deal for a top team but for our penny pinchers and useless medical staff that is a nightmare.

    So that is 6 games in 20 days. Fire up the Bruce excuse machine, if he survives that long. It is actually a valid excuse but only because the the terrible way NUFC is run. Including by the man, Bruce, who will be making the excuse. I am surprised he hasnt started already!!! I expect that will be rolled out at the Villa press conference.

    So who is on Nicksen’s radar? None of the papers seem to have a clue. Mark Douglas of The Chronic thinks there will be some movement soon but that is all he has. These people used to have connections at NUFC/KGB.


  19. The one thing you can say about Big Fat Sam is that he is pretty astute in the loan market. His thrushes will probably steal a player from under Nicksen’s nose. And Magpies are supposed to be the thieves!

    There must be somebody at Chelsea we could get. They have paid like 200 million for forwards in the last couple of years including Pulisic. And they already had Abraham, Hudson Adoi, Mount and Giroud.


  20. 4-4-2 with Wilson and Carroll. They should be a handful but only if we use them right. Loads of crosses into the box. So it makes sense that he plays a 4-4-2 without any wingers…


  21. I remember he played a similar side against Wolves and he just basically asked all the attacking players to defend and it was the same tactics as usual – ?


  22. Gayle not even on the bench. about 90% now we are selling him, otherwise that makes no sense. Joelinton back in and no Hayden. I think he might be saving Isaac for Villa believing we will need him for Villa. He is right, as Grealish and McGinn are a million times better than any midfielders in our squad.


  23. Is Bruce going all Big Fat Sam and trying to bully a result out of Arsenal? Allardyce had a good record doing that. Wilson can put himself about and perhaps Joelinton can use his size for once and stay on his fcn feet. Hope Andy Elbows doesnt get sent off.


  24. Can’t say I’m inspired by that at all.

    All the danger down Arsenal wings – especially their left side, and we have Joelinton & Almiron – neither are wingers in a 4-4-2 formation.

    Let’s see – it certainly can’t be any worse than the Sheffield United first half.

    Poor Matty might be busy tonight though.


  25. Matty picking up where his brother left off here. Carroll just ran passed him to make a block in the box – well done Carroll.

    Miggy doing well in the 1st half & Kraft has done well so far as well against PEA & Tierney


  26. I suppose it has been OK. Miggy trying. Joelinton has been his usual self and Shelvey hit the first man with our only corner.


  27. When your whole plan is to willingly concede possession in a hope that you’ll nick something on a counter attack or set piece, it truly blows my mind that we don’t have a single player who can cross the [email protected] ball!!.

    Kraft fluffed 2 early on, Almiron needs a good 5 mins to line it up – and Shelvey can’t take a corner to save his p!sing life!!! – and if Ritchie was on, he’d be equally as gash.

    What the hell do they practice on the training ground????


  28. We have Carroll, Joelinton, Lascelles, Clark & Wilson all to aim for from a corner & it doesn’t make it passed the first man – pathetic.


  29. If we sell Gayle for let’s say 5 million it would be utter madness. But if he is injured again that would be almost as bad.


  30. All from yet another [email protected] failed corner from Shelvey!!!,

    Nobody tell me he’s good enough!!. He is ****!!, his whole game is passing and he can’t hit a dead ball.

    Useless to$$er!!


  31. Shelvey hits the first man from a corner again, we waste a free kick and they go up the other end and score. Normal service resumed.

    Let’s see if we can respond!!!

    Arsenal havent looked all that. But we usually implode when we chase the game. Sorry for being so negative.


  32. Sharpy mate, I was saying the other week that Shelvey and Ritchie must have hit hundreds of thousands of corners in training and they still cant beat the first man. Neither could Sean Longstaff.


  33. We slaughter Bruce and rightly so at times.

    But when he has a midfield of the Longstaff boys who contribute absolutely nothing, Hendrick that contributes absolutely nothing & Shelvey who contributes absolutely nothing – I’m not sure what he does to be fair.

    Matty, like Sean has ran round a lot and on the odd occasions he’s touched the ball he’s passed it backwards – as Sean would if he were on. Hendrick very much the same with a little less running & Shelvey even less running and a **** pass.

    They are all garbage imo.


  34. If Fulham win their game in hand we’re only 4 points off the bottom

    I really can’t believe Charnley is watching this and thinking we will
    Be fine.


  35. Matty jogging back – even looks a Saka but doesn’t up his pace to get back – no, not a Newcastle player within 10 yards of him as he walks into the box to place his shot.

    We are awful & this without question is relegation form. As bad as we ever played under McClaren or Carver.

    We are the worse performing side in the PL in my opinion – and the players are starting to play like a relegated side as well. Heads have gone down – no reaction to conceding.

    This could end up 4 or 5 nil if Arsenal fancy it tonight.


  36. There is only one thing good here and that is Darlow’s continued form in a featured game. If Southgate cannot see he is better than the T-Rex armed Mackem he needs removing.


  37. Did you see after the third goal 5 Arsenal player converge on Aubamayang. That no hugging directive seems to be working 🙂


  38. Eric Sykes:
    Did you see after the third goal 5 Arsenal player converge on Aubamayang. That no hugging directive seems to be working ?

    Wouldn’t it be novel if we had a chance to see if our players were sticking to it


  39. 2 points out of 18. Out of both cups. 1 goal in how many minutes now.

    A patented Bruce death spiral. Ask the Mackems and Villa about how this ends. He never turns it around so he needs to be sacked tonight.


  40. Last season at Christmas I said Bruce would take us down this year. I changed my mind when we brought in Wilson and Fraser but now I am 50/50.

    Bookies have us at 5/2 which is about right. I think we were teens to 1 around Xmas. The slide in odds has not been about results because they have been ****, I think it has been about performances because everybody can see we are playing the worst football in the league.


  41. Funny, his way looked very similar to every other bl00dy way really.

    I like playing 2 up front he said at the start of the game. That yielded 1 shot off target and 0 on target. Ended the game with only 1 shot on target in 90 mins.

    Someone tell him, you still need to throw punches when you take them gloves off!!.


  42. Pile of total dross again. Hey ho… Ashley you fat, your team is heading down the pan and taking your £350 million with them…

    We have no midfield. We are shi.t all over the park except in goal and Darlow cannot save everything.


  43. We’ll be told now that he’s introducing a new way of playing to the players & it won’t happen over night.


  44. Is it Villa next? They haven’t trained for two weeks and have players lacking fitness and are ill with Covid. I’d still whack my house on Villa.


  45. Said it all when he took off Carrol who needed service and replaced him with the very player who could of provided said service !!!!!!!


  46. Did Bruce really say to ask the players themselves if he had lost the dressing room. He knows full well they cannot say anything on the record. There is also pretty much no access from any media as club policy. Saying anything on twitter or facebook that is not either banal or positive would get a player into trouble. This is yet another nonsensical statement from Bruce as if anybody says anything it is tantamount to mutiny and they will not be picked.


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