11 December 2014

An open letter to Newcastle ahead of Saturday's clash...

When the 2014-15 season began, we at Arsenal looked down our collective, perhaps Gallic noses at Newcastle, deeming the Magpies as unworthy of the gaze. Surely, we thought, we would have to focus our attention on the crème de la crème—Chelsea, Man City, Man U, perhaps Liverpool—but we assumed, as always, that a fourth place finish, if not higher, would be our birthright. The early returns suggested that it would these presumptions were prescient. Tottenham and Everton stumbled out of the gates. Liverpool and Man U staggered. Despite our own sluggish start, we at Arsenal could reassure ourselves that it would be only a matter of time before we set things right.

Then, along come Toon. After an indifferent start, to say the least, you all have skyrocketed from early weeks spent slumming in the relegation-zone to as high as fifth. Along the way, you’ve seen off Tottenham and Man City away as well as Liverpool and Chelsea at home. Cheers, by the way, for ending Chavski’s assault on our Invincibles season. We’re all feeling rather chuffed, to be honest—although perhaps not quite enough to roll over for you on Saturday.

Sorry to be a bit churlish about it all, especially when I look upon a club harder-hit by injury at the moment than we are, but I do feel as if we have to strike while the iron is hot. Last weekend, Chelsea and Southampton lost. Liverpool and Tottenham were lucky to salvage a point each. Everton lost. We might only climb as high as fifth with a win on Saturday, but every point counts, and we know full-well how much it means to take three points from you. I’m sorry to dredge up painful memories, but we are indebted to you for a fair-few fixtures. The last five have been vital, three of them helping us to secure that prized fourth-place finish, and that’s without delving into the ten-goal orgy of December 2012.

There is, of course, the small matter of Debuchy. We managed to poach him from you, and, for that, I do apologise. Sincerely. I know how vital he once was for you in his brief time at Tyneside, and he's already proven himself similarly vital in his short time in London, vital enough to perhaps start at centre-back. Chambers has to serve a one-match ban, and Koscielny and Monreal are injured. Given your injury-woes, I don't want to make to much of our own. The irony of Debuchy slotting in for us instead of featuring for you is not lost on me.

Looking a bit further back into the past, let me admit that there is a certain 4-4 scoreline that still rankles, perhaps enough to cancel out the debts and favors mentioned above. Between that and our respective positions on the table, I hope you’ll understand if I can’t quite bring myself to hope that we’ll share points on Saturday. In the words of The Simpsons’ Moe Szyslak, “I'm more of a well-wisher...in that I don't wish you any specific harm.” More seriously, please do trust me when I say that I wish you well. Just not on Saturday!