The long long wait for match day is through, and we're hours away from Newcastle's match at the Emirates tonight. If you (like myself) have not registered your picks for the Prediction League, make sure you do that soon! Today is the critical test of Newcastle's (admittedly faint) hopes for Champions League football- we are 5 points behind joint-fourth Arsenal and Chelsea. One of these I feel like we have a better chance of catching than the other... I'll let you guess which might be which. Anyway, there are a limited number of hours before the match and much to do, so-- let us get to the links!
He said: "To be honest, the first thought that came to my mind when I heard that was, 'Are you mad?', but I guess that was his way of appreciating getting the goal against our rivals. For me, it's fantastic. To have that sort of praise from the head of the club means a lot, and hopefully I can carry on helping us win games." He added: "I know he holds me in high regard in the dressing room and as a player, there's nothing better than your manager having that faith in you that you can pull through when he needs you."
Only Jackie Milburn has scored more derby goals than Shola. I suppose that a creation of a new position of esteem, perhaps a "limited legend" status may be in order here.
NEWCASTLE UNITED face one of their toughest trips of the season to North London to take on top four Arsenal tonight. But while the Gunners are formidable opponents on their own Islington turf, Arsenal haven’t always had it their own way against the Magpies down the years. Here are a few memories that might just give Toon fans some inspiration ahead of the clash at the Emirates Stadium.
Granted none of the squads touched upon in this piece have any influence at all upon today's match... but it is kind of fun to remember some good away victories for the Toon in this fixture.
"Newcastle is a team that has offensive strength so a good defensive performance will be needed," he said. "For a long time, we didn't put one big result after the other. "But we have scored seven against Blackburn, five against Tottenham, three against Milan and they are good teams. Overall, we have a flow in our game because maybe the confidence is higher."
Their recent goal-scoring form has got to be a concern, seeing as how we can't keep teams out of our net with any regularity.
And while the Newcastle manager thinks that may not be such a bad thing, he will chase the game if necessary. "It affects my mindset in terms of do I want to win the game, but we’ve got to be in the game," he said. "At Tottenham (where Newcastle conceded three goals in the first 20 minutes), we didn’t have a way back. We were dead and buried at half-time. "We have to be in the game with ten or 15 minutes to go and, if we are, I won’t settle for a draw, for sure."
I understand being willing to chase the game... but I'm going to submit that if we are chasing the game, we are not going to win the game.
Obertan suffered a nightmare experience at White Hart Lane in Newcastle’s 5-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur, and was hauled off at half-time. But the glimpses of skill and ability Newcastle fans have only seen in patches this term was back last Thursday night when against Sunderland he showed the trickery he has in his locker. Playing in a more advanced central role, Obertan reflected: "I played in a different position, but hopefully I did enough to be involved at Arsenal whether I get start or come off the bench, it would be nice to play a part."
Gaby, Gaby, Gaby. As near as I could tell trying to follow the reserve derby this past week, Obertan looked good... If it was due to the "more advanced central role", he had best watch out, or he will pigeon himself into a perceived role that doesn't fit the system...
Newcastle haven’t won a game for over a month and Ba is concerned about the form of Alan Pardew’s troops. He told the Chronicle: "As a team we are focused solely on finishing the season as strongly as we can. "We don’t want the good work we have done in the first six months of the season to go to waste."
I picked this quote because it amuses me. In the BPL, like no other league, you can make hyperbolic statements that sound completely awful ("Newcastle haven't won a game for over a month!"), then when you look at it, there have been only 2 matches in the calendar month. I mean... I am concerned, because part of that stretch includes the 5-0 reverse to Tottenham, but the statement itself is just a little melodramatic.
'To be honest when I signed for Newcastle I didn't think we would be in this position now. There are six clubs in England that have always been there for the last few years so it was going to be difficult for us to be in there with them. 'The good start we had clearly helped us, so then we started to believe, it made us trust ourselves that we could get many points to stay with them near the top. 'Even when we lost games to Manchester City, Chelsea or whoever, we stayed around the top. I think we have to stay focused only on what we are doing, like Arsenal. Then after that we go match to match and think about that only. Not what other teams are doing.
It would have been interesting to be involved in this interview and ask the follow-up question "Prior to your signing, what were you told about the European timeline?" or something similar. Clearly it had to have been sold as a process. On top of that, though, the encouraging take away is that a sales pitch is in place that can convince a player of Cabaye's quality to sign up for a building process.