You've got a job to do! - 07/02/2003
On Sunday we’ll face the side who I believe have the greatest squad, play the most attractive football, and who should be the 2003/2003 Premiership Champions. There will periods in the game when they’ll be stroking the ball around and we’ll be chasing our tails, but I tell you what…we can win it.
Apart from Newcastle’s players, and the great record at St. James Park, there’s also another thing about this game that Arsenal will not like – 50,000 Geordies giving it everything! And as an ex-player, I can tell you that it means so much to the players to be given the best support in the country. So when you’re in the pub, sitting on the bus, train, metro, or driving to the game, I want you all to realise just how important you can be to your club. This is a massive game and when the players take the field I’d like the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up, you let Arsenal know where they are! If you don't normally get involved with that much singing, this is the time to start - and to get those sitting next to you to join in!
As I’ve said, there’ll be times when we can’t get the ball from Arsenal, but there’ll also be times when they can’t get the ball off us. If you’re one of the lads who starts the songs and gets the atmosphere going, this is the time when we need you to stand up and be counted because the atmosphere that you create can win us the game.
For me, Arsenal will be dangerous down the left of the pitch, just watch Cole, Viera, and Pires create triangles and try to drag Nobby and Aaron or Griffin all over the place. The triangles will force our centre-halves over to cover – and this creates openings for Bergkamp and Henry. Just looking at the Arsenal team, all of them are real footballers, even Gilberto, a defensive midfielder can play a sophisticated and technical game. More than most games, the first goal will be the turning point of the match. If Newcastle go in front then I know that you - the crowd - will explode and we’ll force them to open up the game further. If it’s Arsenal who open the scoring, then we’re in for a really, really tough battle (and we’ll need you more than ever to lift the players).
Imagine what a win will do? It’ll give us massive momentum, momentum that we’d built up before last weeks Middlesbrough fiasco. The belief in ourselves will be stronger than ever, and with Man Utd and Chelsea due at home, we’ll be playing with great confidence in the knowledge that we can genuinely beat any team who comes to St. James. But remember one thing, it’s not just about the eleven players on the pitch, it’s also about the 50,000 in the stands.
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