When Newcastle take on Arsenal tomorrow night, we will need to be very tight and in good form to get anything out of the game at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have some outstanding players, and any one of them could win the game for the Gunners if Newcastle are in the least bit shoddy at the back.
Rather surprisingly, 58-year-old Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez has never won at Arsenal and has just two draws from his seven trips to north London.
It was put to Rafa that he had never won at Arsenal and this is what he said in the Chronicle today:
“I don’t remember. If you have the stats, maybe I haven’t.”
“No, but you can change things. They have changed the manager since my previous visit, so things are different.”
“The stats are quite interesting depending on ‘what’ – what they refer to.” “Every year is different, every manager is different, the players are different.”
“So I don’t see any specific reason why Newcastle United cannot win against this team, just because they haven’t in 20 years. Or because Rafa Benitez hasn’t won against a team in 20 years.”
“I don’t see any specific reason why; you change things, and it can happen. Normally, why is it that you don’t win at Arsenal? Because they have a very good team. That’s it.”
“No, I think everything is different, and then in the moment you can have more confidence, less confidence, good luck, bad luck, or whatever,” Benitez said of Newcastle’s questionable record in London.”
“I don’t think that these stats are something that you can say they are clear, or not clear. If a team has a problem at home all the time for five years, OK, they have problems at home.”
“But in this case, you are talking about going to London, where you can go against Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and you can lose.”
“Why? Because they are good teams; that’s the reason why. ‘London’ covers a lot of teams, and some of the teams are very good there.”
“We will watch games for sure, then we will be in London preparing for the game against Arsenal. That’s it.”
“I like to watch other games. The last weekend I watched games. It depends who is playing and where.”
“When you make sure to watch Bournemouth before you play them, or you watch Crystal Palace before you play them next week.”
“That gives you an idea of what to expect.”
“I have my staff watching four or five games of each team in advance, so they give me all the reports and everything.”
“I used to watch some games, and I still get an idea about what we can expect in the future.”
Newcastle have not won any of their past six matches in London -so what does that tell us?
That we are due a win and as Rafa says there’s no reason why we can’t win tomorrow night and all 3 points will take us closer to safety.
And once we are safe Mike Ashley and company can concentrate on signing Rafa to stay on at Newcastle.
You can’t let stats weigh you down – take then as a challenge
If we can beat Arsenal tomorrow, then it will be the first time we have beaten Arsenal at the Emirates since back in late 2010.
That’s when a late first-half header from Andy Carroll gave us a 1-0 win – when Chris Hughton was still the manager.