Before we start a quick though: had we beaten both Southampton and West Ham, we would still second.
Manchester City are on a 10 game winning run. That is 10 wins from 10.
In those 10 games, we have won 21 points. The equivalent of an 80 point season.
Our title hopes always required City to drop points. And they do not look like dropping any. They could finish the season with 16 wins from the last 17 games…
Big game today. Although that is not really huge breaking news.
Newcastle have lost just once at home this season – to Liverpool. Although they only have the 5th best home form in the league due to how many draws they have had at St James’ Park.
After dropped points against Southampton and West Ham, we can not afford to only draw today. That will lead us to being the aggressors, and pushing hard for the win. A tactic that will play into Newcastle’s hands.
They are a very good side when they sit deep and look to hit their opponent on the break.
With Alexander Isak, Joe Willock, Miguel Almiron, Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin, they have a dynamic, direct, quick attack.
I would not be surprised if Saint-Maximin starts, although he is returning from injury. He has the attributes to cause Olexsandr Zinchenko havoc, exploiting the space the Ukrainian leaves when he drops in the middle.
Whilst we need to be aggressive and go for the win from the first minute, we need to ensure we do not leave the back door open.
I think one thing Arteta has done poorly things season is not changing his tactics to suit the players.
When Saliba got his injury, he tried to keep playing with his hybrid back 4. That left us exposed as Gabriel had to over-cover to the right due to Holding’s lack of pace. That left too big a whole to his left as Zinchenko continue his inverted full back role.
In hindsight (and football is easy in hindsight), when Saliba was ruled out, we should have gone to a more traditional flat back 4. And that is what needs to happen against Newcastle – especially with Saliba out and Gabriel doubtful.
That could see Zinchenko play as a more traditional full back in a back 4 alongside White, Holding and Kiwor.
Ahead of them, it will be interesting to see if Thomas Partey returns, or whether Arteta sticks with Jorginho.
The former Chelsea midfielder had a great game against his old team, and he could be better suited for the Newcastle game.
If we are to sit a little deeper in an attempt to protect the back 4, Jorginho’s range of passing and control will be an asset. And with a deeper defence, his lack of pace will not be as exposed.
I think if we do not win today, that is that for our title hopes. But we can still be proud of what we have done this season.
We won! Hip Hip Hip; Hurray!!!
We still are unlikely to win the premiership though! COYG’S!