Newcastle United host Arsenal at 2pm this afternoon as the new football season gets underway at St James’ Park.

The match is televised on Sky as once again we prove to be one of the clubs Sky acknowledge they have to feature if they want to keep their viewing figures up.

Obviously it’s important to get off to a good start as, similar to last season, we have been handed a tough run of early fixtures.

The game is equally important for the Gunners, of course, as they try to live up to their billing by the London media as one of “the big six” clubs – whatever that means.

Arsenal have been busy during close season but it is not known how many of their new players will feature today. Watch out in particular for a potential debut for “you’re just a s*** Coloccini” David Luiz – a surprise acquisition from Chelski during the summer transfer window.

United are in what can best be called a transition period. Rafa has gone – along with Rondon and Perez who scored most of our paltry goal return last season.

Rafa has been replaced by Steve Bruce. An appointment which has been greeted with general derision by the Toon Army. Fair to say Bruce wouldn’t have been our first choice – in fact I doubt if many of us would have chosen him at all!

Again though, he could buy himself some time and maybe win over a few fans with some positive early results. Beating Arsenal today would go a long way to settling some of the grumbles.

Rondon has been replaced by Joelinton – a £40m goalscoring centre forward from Hoffenheim who is as yet unproven in the Premier League. However, he’s big, strong, fast, has two good feet and is good in the air. So all the attributes are there if we can give him the service he needs.

He’s also got an eye for goal, as he has already demonstrated in pre-season.

Perez has been replaced with Allan Saint-Maximin – a tricky, strong forward who can play on either wing or as an all out striker. Having watched him against St Etienne, I actually think he’s a step up in class from Perez.

The new manager has set out his stall to attack more this season, which will be welcomed by those fans who got a bit frustrated with Rafa’s “park the bus” tactics. And with the forward-looking players we have at our disposal, I think we can be fairly optimistic that we will indeed score more goals this season.

The downside of course will be the “goals against” column in the league table. Emphasis on attack will mean ditching to some extent the organisation, attention to detail and emphasis on defence which Rafa drilled into the team.

In spite of our lowly league position for most of last season we had one of the lowest goals against records, and were one of the teams it was hard to score against.

We still have the solid central defence intact, and it will be interesting to see if our two new wingbacks Krafth and Willens add to our defensive abilities, and hopefully add to our attacking capability going forward.

One thing is certain. We should brace ourselves for another Newcastle United rollercoaster ride. Hopefully exciting, rewarding and avoiding relegation which has to be the main requirement.

In other words, another typical season for the Toon these days!

Enjoy the match!!

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