We’re back in action!
Our Premier League campaign kicks off with a trip to St James Park and all of our pre-season work, our new signings, it has been geared toward this season becoming a success.
That can only happen with wins and so we begin our season looking for a victory, but starting on the road is sure to add to the difficulty.
The first game of the season is so often hard to call, both teams will be pumped and fresh, and players will be eager to show their respective coaches that they are worthy of a starting place.
Unai Emery will know exactly what is at stake if an improvement isn’t obtained over last season. Finishing in the Champions League places is target number one, and he will also be fully aware of the perils of poor away form.
Our record on the road last season cost us dearly and it is something that must be rectified if we are to have any hope of getting back into the top four.
We can start our quest with three points, but who does Emery call upon to get some points on the board at the first time of asking?
Thanks to further security concerns surrounding Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac, which means both will miss out on this trip.
Hector Bellerin and Rob Holding are still some weeks away from a first team return after their respective long term injuries.
In terms of our new signings, Kieran Tierney is also a few weeks away from making his debut, and Nicolas Pepe will be assessed before he is passed fit to play.
We could do with Pepe playing too, especially if Alexandre Lacazette is ruled out with an ankle injury he sustained whilst playing versus Lyon in the Emirates Cup.
We could opt for a back three, especially if David Luiz is opted for. The Brazilian thrives with three at the back and he could play alongside Sokratis and Calum Chambers, who are both fit and ready. That would mean Ainsley Maitland-Niles plays as wing back as well as Nacho Monreal in the absence of Kolasinac.
Who To Watch
Newcastle’s record signing is one of the few rays of optimism for Magpie fans. £40m is quite a heft for Newcastle and so a lot of pressure to score the goals they need to stay in the League will fall on the Brazilian’s shoulders.
Signed from Hoffenheim, he is strong in the air and has quick feet. His strength though, is his primary attribute, and Sokratis and co will have their work cut out if Joelinton can get the service he needs. Cut off the service, Joelinton will be far less effective.
How this will go
We have a very favourable record against Steve Bruce-led teams, which stands us in good stead. Bruce isn’t a favourite choice to replace the well-liked Rafa Benitez, and Bruce has to go a long way to convince the fans that he is the right man.
Bruce isn’t one to go all out, and that means we could have the emphasis placed on us to go and attack. That means time and space until the final third, so missing Ozil will be a big blow for us.
It will require patience and finesse around the box. We could step back and invite the home team to attack, in order to make the most of our pace up top with Aubameyang and possibly Pepe. If Dani Ceballos plays, his exquisite touch may well hold the key to unlocking what may be a packed final third.
This is where our season begins – and a good beginning is almost as vital as a happy ending. Let’s make this count boys.
Predicted Lineup – Leno, Sokratis, Luiz, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Xhaka, Ceballos, Willock, Monreal, Mkhitaryan, Auba
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal