Ahead of these types of games like the one we have tonight against Newcastle, I often like to have a little hunt around for opposing fan views, to see what their general vibe is, how they are feeling ahead of the game, etc. after all it is those kind of message boards, forums and blogs that give you a better indication of form because people posting on those sites watch their club more than any pundit.

So yesterday I had a little mooch around and the vibe I got was that many of the Geordies thought they’re going to get smashed up tonight. They recognise that their team has been conceding goals, they acknowledge that we’ve been in good form of late (Porto slip up aside), plus there was even one or two of them who thought that the fact this is an evening game as well as the game at St James’ Park might give this a little edge to it.

And I think they’re right. Thats because I obviously also am immersed in the Arsenal world and what I’ve been reading from our lot is a general feeling of wanting to bring the noise, of making the atmosphere hostile, so that we can roar the lads on to victory. I hope that is the case tonight. I’ll be going and if my voice isn’t horse come 10pm, then I haven’t done my job properly.

Mikel Arteta spoke to the press yesterday and the team news whilst sounding sketchy as he always does, is hopefully better than it’s been for a few weeks. Partey has been in training so I have a hope that he might make the bench, plus when asked about Gabby Jesus Arteta simply said “he’s done a few things”. To me I read that as he’s been back in training – or at least I hope that’s what it means – and perhaps we might even get him back in the squad today. If he too can make the bench that will be preferable. The Zinchenko news still feels like it’ll be a case of at least another week for him I reckon.

He spoke about the need for a reaction from the players after the midweek loss, but I didn’t get the feeling of a man who has just told his players that they have to react, but rather a composed and measured response of “that’s done, we move on”. And I think that’s a good thing. Put away any lingering negativity or worry about us suddenly spiralling our form and instead focus on tonight’s opponent, who Arteta also mentioned a couple of bits that had me thinking he’s got an idea how they will play, tactically. He specifically referenced that they do things ‘off the ball’ and although I’m putting two-and-two together here, I do think that he was talking about how they will find their shape positionally and be compact against us. Last season’s game at the Emirates saw them work incredibly hard off the ball to double up on our wide forwards and we struggled to break them down. Then there was all of their time wasting and sh*thousery and we’ll get that tonight for sure, but they did also work very hard to maintain a disciplined shape and I think that will be their focus tonight.

That will of course be different to how they’ve played for a lot of this season, of course, because they’ve been more open, scoring and conceding goals at a much higher rate than they did last season. But I don’t see a game in which they want things opened up, because that’s where we’ll exploit spaces and will get joy. So for me what we’ll get is a return to last season’s Newcastle and they will look to hit us on the counter. Think West Ham at home.

In terms of our line up, I think Arteta might make at least one change to the line up tonight, which I have a feeling will be Jorginho coming in. He did well at St James’ Park when he wasn’t being punched in the head and he also will be needed to keep the ball and recycle it if we do get a Newcastle team that sits on the edge of their box. So I have a feeling he’ll come in and therefore it’ll be one of Trossard or Havertz to come out. That will surely be Trossard because he was virtually anonymous on Wednesday and with Havertz as more of a focal point than Trossard, it feels more natural to see him shift forward, then Jorginho to play a similar role to the one he played against Liverpool.

And if we get the same kind of performance and result as we did that day, then we’ll all be going home happy, because that would mean a win and a chance to keep up with City and Liverpool, who will have both picked up their points by then (Liverpool of course already have because of their win at home to Luton during the week).

This is a big game for us. It’s one in which fatigue could play a part, especially if most of the team remains the same as it has done for the last three matches, so I do wonder what impact the subs could make today? If Partey and Jesus can return, for example, then Arteta will have those two plus Trossard (if on the bench), ESR and Fabio Vieira who will all be able to come on and hopefully change things up. That’s so important if the margins of the game are tight and I suspect we might see more sub action tonight than we did in midweek. And that is probably a good thing, because three games in a week will catch up with some of those players, so injecting a bit of freshness in the team might be of vital importance as the second half starts to wear on. Newcastle have had a week off so their legs won’t be as tired and we need to be able to keep pace, so what Arteta does from the sidelines could be a difference maker today.

I’m hopeful that we’re going to get a good performance tonight but I’m not expecting a battering. I feel like this will be tight and I do think Newcastle might score on the counter, so we just need to make sure we have our shooting boots on.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a blog and then we’re going to be doing a morning show on the Same Old Arsenal, so if you fancy joining us you can do so here. Catch you all tomorrow.