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Tuesday Cannon Fodder: expectations

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Good morning, TSF! I hope your back-to-work Tuesday isn’t too terrible. It’s always tough after a long weekend and particularly difficult after the holidays. It is Tuesday — I double checked. For those of you who missed it, I mistakenly titled yesterday’s CF “Tuesday Cannon Fodder” out of confusion. My apologies for the momentary panics that I may have caused with my error.

As I was walking Gunner this morning, I was thinking about how I felt about today’s massive Arsenal - Newcastle matchup. It feels as if Arsenal are going to handle their business in front of what will hopefully be a raucous Emirates crowd. I’m confident in this team, which is a long-forgotten feeling when it comes to Arsenal.

I don’t think I’ll ever get to a point where I expect the Gunners to win matches like this. That would be foolish. We’ve seen time and again in the Premier League this season that good teams (and not as good teams) can beat the top clubs any time out. Newcastle, like Arsenal, are a good team.

And it’s a kitchen sink game for them. A loss sends Newcastle 12 points adrift with Arsenal holding a game in hand. Anything can happen in the Premier League but that gap feels like it would be Arsenal out of reach and the end of any titles hopes for Eddie Howe’s side. There’s a part of me that thinks, “a 12 point lead isn’t that much, there is still plenty of football left to play,” but with the rate at which top teams pick up points, it’s a massive gap.

The most pleasant feeling ahead of the match may be one that I don’t have. It doesn’t feel as if Arsenal are going to blow it and put in a stinker. They’re going to show up, and they’re going to play at least pretty well. They still may draw or lose (see above about good teams), but it’ll be an effort that makes you say, “on another day, it could have gone their way.”

To be fair, I felt the same way heading into the Newcastle match last spring when Arsenal were trying to hold onto the final Champions League spot and got a Niagara Falls-sized amount of cold water to the face.

But it really feels like this bunch and this season are different. I still won’t let myself think about them actually winning the title, but we’re getting closer and closer to when reality will necessitate that I do. Talk to me at the end of the month after Newcastle, @ Tottenham, and Manchester United. Manchester City are an experienced club. They’ve won the league from in front, they’ve won it by hunting down Liverpool, and they’re going to give Arsenal everything they’ve got.