The way I see it - Arsenal v Newcastle

Last updated : 25 September 2003 By Jason Hogan

Now, for me at least, having taken into account the happenings of Sunday and the repercussions they have brought for Arsenal, then that very line suddenly takes on a profound poignancy.

You see, contrary to the old adage, Arsenal have found out to their cost that cheats DO prosper. I can imagine Ferguson giving Van Nistelrooy a hefty pat on the back and both of them grinning their heads off.

They can forget, almost laugh even, about the fact that he missed a penalty on the day safe in the knowledge that Van Nistelrooy's shenanigans have effectively done far more damage to the title chances of their biggest rivals.

So once again, everybody connected with Arsenal is left with a sour taste in the mouth purely as a result of the provocative actions of others against us. The fact that we have 14 days to respond to the various charges handed out by the FA will make precious little difference as, in effect, we have already been tried and convicted on all counts bar all the shouting.

The questions I have been asking myself are probably similar to those most other Arsenal fans are asking. Where do things go from here? Will we ever get a fair crack of the whip?

The truth is it doesn't matter whether Arsenal are in the wrong or in the right because will never be able beat the system in which they have to operate.

After all, this is a system that is made up of factions (i.e. the press, the media, referees and the good old FA) that are brazenly prejudiced where Arsenal are concerned. I am saying this to court sympathy, I'm saying this simply because it is a fact.

The only thing that Arsenal can do in the circumstances is to adopt a “don't get mad, get even” sort of mentality. In other words, we may not beat the system but it doesn't mean that we can't buck the system from time to time.

We have done it before. Take, for example, what we did in 2002. We managed to do the Double despite all manner of injuries and suspensions. Go back even further to 1991. We managed to win the league by something like seven points despite having two points docked by the FA.

The beauty of it was that the press and the media had to stir themselves into giving us some sort of credit for triumphing in adversity. They must have felt like they were sucking lemons.

I know that the odds at present are very much stacked against pulling off a title win but, to coin the famous Kevin Keegan expression, I would love it if we managed to pull it off this season – LOVE it.

So, assuming that we still harbour a genuine desire to win the championship, it now becomes even more important that we gather together as much momentum as possible before all the suspensions begin to kick in - starting against Newcastle.

The Geordies have not quite had the start to the season that was expected least of all by their own fans. I bet that there are still a few shock waves reverberating around St James's Park in aftermath of their ill-fated quest to make the Champions League proper.

I have to admit that Bobby Robson is not one of my favourite people. I have never forgotten all the bull he came out with after Newcastle beat us 3-1 in THAT match at Highbury just under two years ago but I do have respect for what he achieved in the game and therefore it was a shame that Newcastle didn't get the opportunity to mix it with the big boys in Europe.

When I look at the Newcastle side the one thing that strikes me about them is their midfield are in particular. They seem to be very top heavy in terms of midfielders, like Dyer, Jenas, Solano, Bowyer, Viana and Robert who are at their best going forward.

The thing is that over the course of a season you often have to play in big matches and sometimes matches that are won literally on the back of one or two good old fashioned, honest 50-50 tackles. If my life depended on it, I can honestly say that I wouldn't back any of the above to do that.

For me, because Newcastle do not have a natural ball winner or a natural defensive midfield player, even as an option, they will continue to fall a little short as far as winning the title goes.

That, of course, isn't to say that they cannot play and if we are going to prevail will have to put any resentful thoughts to the back of our minds for a start. Irrespective of the charges that are looming over us, the fact is that there are still scores to be settled. Friday night will be a good place to start.