EDDIE HOWE probably thinks that things can only get better for Newcastle after his nightmare start to his new job.
But he’s wrong. Because they could be about to get a whole lot worse.
Catching Covid on the eve of his first match in charge was a setback which no-one on Tyneside could possibly have foreseen.
But tomorrow’s trip to Arsenal is an accident which every Toon fan can see hurtling rapidly over the horizon.
Because it is now 11 years since Newcastle won their one and only match at the Emirates, and they have lost nine on the bounce since then.
No wonder the Gunners are already licking their lips at the chance of getting back to winning ways after last week’s chastening defeat at Liverpool.
Mikel Arteta knows just how important it is to put that Anfield setback behind as quickly as possible.
And they could not have asked for more accommodating opponents than the only team in the country without a single win all season.
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So for a team with ambitions of challenging for Champions League qualification, anything less than a convincing victory would be unacceptable.
Howe has got the all-clear to take his place in the Emirates technical area tomorrow after returning a negative coronavirus test.
But watching Newcastle’s kamikaze defence up close and personal should come with its own health warning.
And maybe he would be better off waiting until next week’s home game against Norwich to come out of isolation.
Jonjo Shelvey claimed that last week’s frantic 3-3 draw with Brentford was a lot more enjoyable than playing for Steve Bruce.
But try telling that to the new owners who are suddenly waking up to the realisation that they could soon be looking forward to trips to Peterborough and Blackpool rather than the Emirates and Old Trafford.
Amanda Staveley and her Saudi chums are already planning a major spending spree in the January transfer window to overhaul their struggling team.
But no amount of money will convince serious players to sign for Newcastle if there is a chance that they will be playing in the Championship next season.
Howe is only too aware that he cannot afford to wait for the New Year to start turning things around.
Newcastle need to start winning games now to stand any chance of hauling themselves out of the relegation zone.
They are already five points adrift of 17th placed Leeds and with Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United all to come before Christmas things won’t get easier any time soon.
Arsenal will not want to pass up the chance to add to their woes.
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