Legend Macdonald can’t divide Newcastle and Arsenal

LEGEND ... Malcolm Macdonald.
LEGEND ... Malcolm Macdonald.

LEGEND Malcolm Macdonald has lost count of the amount of times he has discussed fixtures between Newcastle United and Arsenal.

The goalscoring great’s name will be forever associated with both clubs after successful spells at St James’s Park and Highbury in the 1970s.

And matches between the pair still bring a glint to his eye.

Arsenal and Newcastle are level on points going into Saturday’s game at the Emirates Stadium, which is sure to add something extra to the occasion.

Newcastle defeated previously unbeaten Premier League leaders Chelsea 2-1 last time out, while Arsenal lost 3-2 at Stoke City.

However, Macdonald feels the game is now difficult to predict after Arsenal won 4-1 in the Champions League at Galatasaray in midweek.

He told the Gazette: “On Tuesday morning, I was thinking Newcastle surely had the upper hand coming off defeating Chelsea, and Arsenal had a miserable weekend.

“Then Arsenal went and absolutely murdered Galatasaray over in Turkey, and you never know with Arsenal.

“They can be dreadful one day, and brilliant the next, which sounds like I’m talking about Newcastle!

“It’s always very difficult to predict a game involving these teams, but I can see Arsenal just getting a little bit bogged down.

“I think there are two real attacking sides there, but I’m not so sure there will be a lot of goals in it. I think it will be 1-1.

“If Newcastle can replicate their performance against Chelsea, though, I think Arsenal will have a problem and might not be able to salvage anything from the game.”

A win for either would put them within touching distance of a place in the top four, and Newcastle have proved on numerous occasions this season they are more than capable of beating the Premier League’s so-called big guns.

Manchester City were beaten by United in the League Cup, while Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are among the clubs Newcastle have seen off in the league.

Newcastle soaked up much Chelsea pressure on Saturday before twice hitting them on the counter-attack to secure a 2-1 win.

After the game, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho complained about Newcastle’s tactics, and claimed the ballboys at St James’s Park had wasted time.

Macdonald feels that will have been music to Alan Pardew’s ears, and believes another win on Saturday could set the Magpies up for a push for Champions League qualification.

He added: “I thought the biggest accolade that Newcastle could have received was when Mourinho complained about the ballboys.

“I just thought, ‘Is that all you’ve got to complain about?’, because if it was, Newcastle must have trounced them even more than the scoreline suggested.

“If Newcastle take a similar playing style and their form down to the Emirates, they will give Arsenal real problems.

“The way Newcastle counter-attack, they could well cause Arsenal problems all over the pitch.

“If they do win down at the Emirates – although I don’t wish to tempt fate – I would like to feel they would have a serious go at getting into the top four.”

Macdonald is set to appear at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields, on Friday, January 30.

With sports journalist John Gibson, the former striker will discuss stories which made headlines nationwide.

It starts at 7.45pm, and tickets – which cost £10, and £15 for VIP tickets – are available by calling 0191 454 1234.

Macdonald says it is sure to be a great occasion.

He said: “I’ve done a few events in South Shields, and they are always raucous affairs.

“The football support in South Shields is fantastic, and they let you know they are there. It is always an intelligent crowd, with quality questions coming from them.”