Arsenal vs. Newcastle
English Premier League
Saturday, March 21, 2015
8AM PT/11AM ET/3PM BT (No, England still hasn't switched to summer time. They switch next Sunday.)
St. James' Park, Newcastle
Current League Form: ARS Orbea Orca M-11 | NUFC that disused Schwinn slowly rusting against the garage wall
US TV: NBCSN | Worldwide TV info: livesoccer.tv
Remember when we were in the Champions League? That was fun, wasn't it? Well, now we get to see the price Arsenal paid for having that much fun, as a mere four days after running like Usain Bolt for 90 minutes in search of
33% 50% more goals (ED.NOTE: I'm bad at math) than they ended up getting, it's right back to business as they head up north to face a slumping-at-the-perfect-time-for-Arsenal Newcastle United.
There are a number of stratifications of any sports league for any given fan. For me, other than the hors categorie Arsenal, there's "teams I detest", "teams I dislike but respect", "teams I like and would love to see do better", and "teams I just can't be bothered to care about". Newcastle have always been in the "Do better" camp for me - I've always had a sort of soft spot in my heart for them, for no real reason. I just have always liked them - I never much liked Alan Shearer, but I respected the hell out of him, and for some reason I always loved watching Les Ferdinand play.
So I don't go into this match thinking BURN DESTROY WRECK AND KILL or anything; I just want a win. Whether a gassed, run-down Arsenal can provide that win is an open question. Despite all the despair, remember, Arsenal actually won that game; that's five straight wins and 13 wins from their last 15 games. It remains to be seen whether Arsenal will rotate much, but Tomas Rosicky is available if need be, and if nobody else does, I at least hope that Sanchez gets the day off, because he's not having the best time of it lately and could probably use a breather.
However bad Arsenal's energy and injury levels are, though, they sorta pale in comparison to Newcastle's. The club found out this week that Steven Taylor will be out for six months, and Cheick Tiote, Siem de Jong, Fabricio Coloccini, Paul Dummett and Papiss Cisse are all unavailable, leaving them 13 fit outfield players. Which means, among other things, that right back Daryl Janmaat will be playing at center back for the first time in his career. How tough of an assignment is that? Ask Brad Evans how that transition went for him last weekend.
So, all things being equal, Arsenal will hopefully get maximum points from minimum effort tomorrow. And then they can nap all the way home.