Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, Holding, Luiz, Tierney, Thomas, Xhaka, Aubameyang, Smith-Rowe, Saka, Lacazette. Subs: Bellerin, Gabriel, Willian, Runarsson, Pepe, Elneny, Willock, Nketiah, Martinelli.
Newcastle: Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Almiron, Matthew Longstaff, Shelvey, Joelinton, Carroll, Wilson. Subs: Dubravka, Ritchie, Hayden, Hendrick, Manquillo, Yedlin, Murphy, Sean Longstaff, Anderson.
Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)
No fewer than 8
changes for Newcastle. The most they have ever changed from one PL to the next. Looks like they are going 442.
Steve Bruce speaks: “A few changes are forced due to injury and Covid. We go with a different shape tonight.”
(Back four?) “Could it be any different with what we’ve got? We have got injuries to centre backs.”
(You have suggested you enjoy a back four more than a back five) “I have never really said that, I have said I enjoy playing two up top. Over recent weeks we have done that. It is nothing new to us.”
No guest tonight
on Monday Night Football. Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville in situ. Wonder if he’ll talk about baby brother Phil’s new gig.
The game is on Sky Sports, there’s dear old Sky Droid introducing the evening’s coverage. My God they are working that boy hard. Hope that Dave Jones is well looked after.
and welcome to our live blog coverage of the upcoming Monday night football match between Arsenal and Newcastle. The fanbases of both teams feel like they have been through a lot in the last few seasons and success this season seems hard to envisage for either. Arsenal begin this match in 11th place with 24 points, and Newcastle (having played a game fewer) are 15th on 19 points. However, there is certainly less of a gap between the top sides and the rest this year, and no reason why one of these teams couldn’t put together a bit of a run and challenge for a European place.
For Arsenal, though, it’s all surely some way below their ambitions and what they perceive their status to be. A player who has come to be seen as something of a touchstone, not to say punchline, of their woes in the last few years, Mesut Ozil, is leaving for Turkey. Three years ago this month, Ozil signed the £350,000 a week deal that, fairly or not, is seen by some as an exemplar of all that is wrong with the Premier League. Sam Dean has a thorough, nuanced analsyis of it all here.
In the three years since Ozil signed that contract, he has made just 48 Premier League appearances, scoring six goals and registering a meagre five assists. He has not played a competitive match since March, showing little of the attitude and workrate that Mikel Arteta expects to see behind closed doors.
Loads of insights in that piece from Sam. “It came at a time of great change behind the scenes, with Wenger losing power, and in the Frenchman’s place Gazidis and his top executives employed Unai Emery, a head coach with a history of struggling to manage the egos and attitudes of the world’s biggest stars. He tried to create “friction” with Ozil to bring the best out of him, but instead succeeded only in turning the playmaker against him and his staff.
Newcastle fans obviously have plenty of issues with the way their own club is being run. When your own manager is saying that a performance was “hopeless” you know that things must be pretty bad. I guess Sheffield United were going to beat somebody sooner or later but, wouldn’t you know, it was the Mags who rolled over and did the decent thing.
Not sure which of my colleagues headlined that, but take a bow. Talk about telling you the story in a few words.