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Newcastle United v Arsenal - Preview from a Toon fan

By Danny
Saturday 13th August 2011
February 5th 2011. I was there, That awful opening 20 minutes were some of the worst I had ever witnessed first hand as an NUFC fan. As Robin Van Persie put away his second of the night and Arsenal's third, my view of the pitch and stands of St James Park, gave me a full view of just how many fans were leaving.

I didn't blame them, we all know football is a fickle sport, but watching your beloved home town team get battered in such a short period of time was just too much to take for some, and if it wasn't for my friends willingness to stay, I would have been out of there with the rest of them.

How wrong I would have been.

For what happened in that second half was magical. More so because of my love for this club, but the fact that fans across the country, who would have been quick to relegate us after our first half, were now queuing up to shout from the rooftops at just how good a comeback this was.

Yet, it was aided by an About Diaby sending off, but the spirit and character shown by Newcastle United in that second half was inspirational, unique and heartwarming. Something, that with all the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, is sadly, a rarity these days.

If we get anything close to that game today, it will be a decent opening day to the new Premier League season for both teams. Although I'm not sure Arsenal fans would agree that throwing away a four goal lead would be a good thing.

Moving on, if we fast forward 6 months and a turbulent pre season later, it brings us nicely to todays game. Now I'd hate to sound like a cliche talking plonker, but I've always liked to see Arsenal play, they've always been a strong youthful team, but what I'm expecting this afternoon as I take my place in the gallowgate end, is something a bit different and relatively weaker.

With Cesc Fabregas, on the verge of completing his never-ending move to Barcelona, and as far as I'm aware, Samir Nasri won't play any part in the fixture, while Jack Wilshere is injured.

That said, with those three important players missing, and the fact that central midfield is arguably Newcastle's strongest area of the team. Further aided by the arrivals of Sylvain Marveaux, Gabriel Obertan, and the ever handsome Yohan Cabaye, and added to that the quality we already have in the midfield double of last seasons Arsenal slayers Cheik Tiote and Joey Barton who happens to be in the form of his life right now, regardless of how much action his twitter account sees, It bodes very well for the north east team, with really only Aaron Ramsey and Alex Song the main threats, a strong midfield performance from Newcastle could and should lead to a Newcastle win.

Even at the risk of looking and sounding silly come 8 o'clock tonight, I'm willing to back a Newcastle win today, although I can certainly see Arsenal scoring, especially with our newly weakened defence following the departure of Jose Enrique, the geordies tend to start the season well. And, if they come flying out the traps with their new found pace and enthusiasm, and attack the weakened Gunners, I can see Newcastle coming away with a positive result today.

Whatever the outcome, the most important thing is a positive result that will certainly set Newcastle up well for a massive derby game next week against Sunderland. A game in which I think, Alan Pardew and Mike Ashley can't afford to lose.

My prediction for today would be, Yohan Cabaye impressing on his home debut, and a glimpse of things to come from the increasingly impressive, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux, and Haris Vuckic, and overall, a good idea of just how this new youthful, pacey, attacking Newcastle United team will fare this season.

The result -  a 3-1 home win.

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