Revenge is a dish best served cold !  (Arsenal v Newcastle preview )

Revenge is a dish best served cold ! (Arsenal v Newcastle preview )

Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Context

Stef, from The North Bank Podcast, explores Arsenal’s context rivalries as they renew hostilities against Newcastle


On Saturday, Arsenal face Newcastle in a premier league match. This wasn’t always the spiciest fixture, but recent history has seen conflict between the two clubs come to the boil. Like Brighton, Stoke and Bolton before them, Newcastle aren’t local rivals or competitive rivals, but incidents have seen them become our context rivals.

How did we get here?

There’s no denying that the real spark for this is Newcastle’s renewed sense of expectation. The Magpies have been on an upward trajectory in the last few seasons. Some media outlets describe their ascension to the Champions League this season as a ‘fairy tale’. I’m less romantic in pointing out the takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund has had some impact on their move away from perennial crisis club.

On the pitch, there have been a few key fixtures and a few key inciting incidents. Firstly, defeat to Newcastle in May 2022 dealt a huge blow to Arsenal’s aim to qualify for the Champions League.

Then, Newcastle turned up to the Emirates in January 2023 and stank the place out, not just with their defensive tactics but also their dark arts/cheating. Add to that, Arteta’s annoyance at a couple of penalty shouts and there is a clear sense that these two teams, their managers and us fans are beginning to really turn up the heat.

Arsenal avenged this defeat with a convincing win at St James’ Park in May 2023, but it was amidst the Gunners’ title chase that wasalready wobbling and finally fell over the following week againstForest.

Then we get to last November when the recent rivalry peaked. It began when Havertz could (and probably should) have seen red for a wild lunging challenge early on. Continued with Bruno Guimaraes, on top of his general foul play throughout the game, clearly hittingJorginho but not being dealt with by the officials.

Finally, the crescendo was Newcastle scoring a goal very late on in the game which VAR took an age to review. They looked at the ball going out of play, an offside and a foul in the build-up. How the goal stood when Joelinton clearly pushed Gabriel left us and especially Mikel Arteta furious. Arteta labelled the situation a disgrace in his post-match interview.

The whole thing became the leading story in football that week. VAR, the PGMOL and especially Arteta’s comments created a storm. Newcastle themselves became the victims of VAR, crash out of the Champions League and European football altogether.

Arteta, although charged for his comments, was eventually cleared on a technicality; his words “lost in translation. Subsequently, Arsenal have gone on to remain in a title race in the league and qualify into the last 16 of the Champions League.

Unfortunately, we are disappointed to have gone down to a very late sucker punch from Porto on Wednesday, but we haven’t forgot howmuch we were smarting after the events at St James’ Park in November.

On Saturday the Emirates, like it was against Liverpool at the start of the month, must be a cauldron. We must take the game to Newcastle because I fully expect them to get up to their old tricks. I want Eddie Howe complaining at the end of the game about desgracia” as we celebrate victory. Come On You Gunners!