Keegan seeking FA upset against Gunners
Enthusiasm is still high at Newcastle after the return of Keegan, and defender Steven Taylor hopes the morale boost will become evident in matches.sports Updated: Jan 25, 2008 18:49 IST
Looking for his first win as Newcastle manager, Kevin Keegan faces Arsenal twice in four days.
The two teams play a FA Cup fourth-round match at Emirates Stadium on Saturday, and meet again in a Premier League game on Tuesday.
Newcastle played in a drab 0-0 draw with Bolton in Keegan's return match as manager on Jan. 19, and the club's record against the Gunners isn't great.
The Magpies lost to Arsenal in the League Cup third round in September and the two drew 1-1 in the league at St. James' Park in December. But Arsenal is still smarting from a 5-1 defeat by Tottenham in the second leg of the League Cup semifinals on Wednesday.
Enthusiasm is still high at Newcastle after the return of Keegan, and defender Steven Taylor hopes the morale boost will become evident in matches.
"Kevin wants to get the lads playing football again and the training has been of very high intensity," Taylor said. "We're going to Arsenal with a whole new belief.
"They will want to bounce back from the disappointment of the Spurs game, but hopefully we'll be able to catch them while they're down. We'll have to be at our best and it's going to be tough." It was Spurs' first win over its north London rival since 1999, but despite Arsenal normally using a second-string players in the League Cup, manager Arsene Wenger fielded nine first-team regulars. The fallout started on the field when strikers Nicklas Bendtner and Emmanuel Adebayor clashed at the end of the game. And, amid rumors that young striker Theo Walcott will be sent out on loan, Wenger canceled his regular Friday news conference. Tottenham hopes the boost from reaching the League Cup final will carry over to Old Trafford, where it plays Manchester United on Sunday.
"This will be a massive game for us, but we're full of confidence and we're not worried," Tottenham assistant coach Gus Poyet said. "We've enjoyed the celebrations but now we're focused. "Sometimes you need to play another game as quickly as possible, and we need to forget about Arsenal because it's going to be another excellent game to prove the level we can play at, whether home or away."
Spurs have not beaten United, the defending FA Cup champion and 11-time winner of the competition, since 2001.
"The atmosphere against Tottenham will be exceptional," United midfielder Owen Hargreaves said. "As it is a home game for us, it becomes a must-win situation."
A record nine of 20 Premier League clubs were knocked out of this month's FA Cup third round, the stage at which the top clubs enter. The lowest-ranked entry left in the competition is non-league side Havant and Waterlooville, which is at Liverpool on Saturday. Chelsea, which will play Tottenham in the League Cup final on Feb. 24, is at Wigan on Saturday in the other all-Premier League matchup.
Other matches with Premier League clubs are: Mansfield vs. Middlesbrough; Portsmouth vs. Plymouth; and Derby vs. Preston on Saturday, and Sheffield United vs. Manchester City on Sunday. There's one Premier League match on Saturday, when Aston Villa hosts Blackburn. Villa, which beat Blackburn 4-0 on Nov. 28 at Ewood Park, can move into fourth place with a win.
"There's no question we wanted a European place at the start of the season, so to be where we are now _ and possibly where we could be on Saturday evening _ is a terrific achievement," Villa forward Ashley Young said. "That's a credit to the boys and how well they've done this season."