Sam Allardyce will take his new look Newcastle team to North London tonight and try to ensure that they are definite underdogs against Arsenal’s second string.
While that sounds a little strange, it’s probably very true, since in the past the Arsenal youngsters have performed admirably against older opposition.
Arsene Wenger has already said he will give games tonight to many of his youngsters, who are of course all top class players.
Sam Allardyce – chance that Newcastle can beat the young Arsenal side?
Allardyce talked about Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday:
“I’ve never disrespected him in any way, shape or form. It’s more the opposite – but that’s life, as we say.â€ “We had good results against them, although we never won at Arsenal. I am not telling you the key to rattling them. Arsene’s not managed to work it out yet, so I might as well keep it going.â€
“We’re certainly underdogs in this game because they’re the best team in the Premier League right now. They’ve got the best squad.â€ “We must make sure that the players are aware of how we managed to beat them at Bolton. If they take that on board, they’ll have a chance. If they don’t, we could suffer at the hands of Arsenal – like many teams have this year.â€
“I have total admiration for Arsene. He has done a terrific job and his side play terrific football. He’s rebuilt a team in a way that few managers could do.â€ “There’s only one manager done it before and that’s Alex Ferguson, and he’s rebuilt four teams and he’s still top of the tree.â€
“Arsene’s the only other one who keeps taking players out and replacing them, and is still producing success.â€ “It didn’t happen last year, but it looks like it will this season. Who doesn’t enjoy watching Arsenal?â€
“Their conversion of chances into goals has increased by at least 50 per cent. “That’s why they’re top of the league. They created just as many chances last year but missed them. Now, they’re creating them and scoring.”
Allardyce has upset Wenger a few times before when he managed Bolton. Big Sam was frequently accused of employing rough tactics against Arsenal. Newcastle will however be full of confidence after their professional display on Sunday against West Ham, which they won fairly easily in the end 3-1.
Big Sam will field his strongest possible line-up as he has already indicated that he believes the Carling Cup is probably Newcastle best chance of some success this season. Goalkeeper Shay Given will be recalled as will Steven Taylor and Oba Martins. Groin victioms Michael Owen and Claudio Cacapa will miss the game and Martins will partner Mark Viduka up front. Mark got two good goals on Sunday and had probably his best game for Newcastle. He will be an important figure for the Magpies tonight. Jose Enrique and Abdoulaye Faye are also expected to get their first starts for the club, with Enrique at left back and Faye in central midfield, probably in place of Nicky Butt.
But Sam Allardyce is trying to get the Newcastle team ready for a very tough game even though a lot of the Gunner’s first team regulars will not feature tonight.
“He plays the kids every week. He plays Fabregas every week and what’s he? A kid. Denilson and all that lot.”“It’s not about whether they’re kids or not, it’s about how much experience they have. And they have lots.”
“Last season, those so-called kids got Arsenal right the way through to the Carling Cup final. This time, they should be even better.”
But we don’t expect Cesc Fabregas to be involved tonight because Arsene will want to rest the 20 year-old for bigger games ahead. While this will not be an easy game for Newcastle, the fact that a lot of Arsenal’s stars will not be playing has to make the Newcastle task a little easier. At least logic would say that – but there again Arsene has some terrific youngsters that will be getting a try out to tonight.
It promises to be a fascinating game.