“The crowd is absolutely magnificent up north, especially at Newcastle, and they always stand behind their team. They are always games played with a lot of commitment and at a very high pace.” – Arsène Wenger
Such is the nature of the Premier League that, having come through a thoroughly searching – at times uncomfortable – examination at the hands of Liverpool, Arsenal are staring down the barrel at another just a few days later.
Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal, March 21, 2015
The Gunners head to the North East on the back of a bruising encounter at Emirates Stadium on Monday night.
Not only was it a physical test, but a mental one too – in particular for the new-look central defensive pairing of Calum Chambers and Gabriel.
That they came through unscathed and boasting a clean sheet it says a lot about their character. And with continued doubts over the fitness of both Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker ahead of the trip to St James’ Park, they will need to steel themselves for more of the same this weekend.
Newcastle: Sissoko (doubt – groin)
Arsenal: Mertesacker (doubt – illness), Koscielny (doubt – back), Rosicky (knee), Welbeck (knee), Wilshere (ankle)
“The crowd is absolutely magnificent up north, especially at Newcastle, and they always stand behind their team,” Arsène Wenger told Arsenal Player. “They are always games played with a lot of commitment and at a very high pace.
“Both [Chambers and Gabriel] have the potential to play at the top, top level. Chambers had a difficult start but he has shown his mental strength.
“I know he’s a great player and he has shown that if even if things don’t start as well as you would like, he can stabilise his game and respond. He has a great mental strength on top of his talent. Gabriel has shown great talent as well and has done very well.”