Alan Smith says Arsenal players might not see their match against Newcastle on Sunday as important, but they have to use it as a preparation for the game against Villarreal.
The Gunners have reached an important few weeks of the season and their games against Villarreal might define their campaign.
Their poor domestic season has seen them spend much of the campaign in mid-table mediocrity.
Winning their remaining league games of the season will hardly be enough for them to get them into the European places, but they still don’t have to bow out just yet.
They will face an in-form Newcastle United side that held Liverpool to a 1-1 draw the last time out.
The Magpies are well-rested and would be extra motivated to get all three points as they continue to fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Former Gunner, Smith, says Arsenal has to show enough to keep themselves in good shape ahead of the Villarreal game later in the week.
He writes in his column on Standard Sports: “Arteta comes across as a character who harbours no doubts at all about his methods and ability to turn this team into something more substantial. Privately, though, I wonder what he thinks in darker moments. It’s only human, after all, to doubt yourself, especially when it’s all going wrong, as it did for a time last night.
“It’s easy to forget that he’s a rookie manager learning as he goes. Mistakes will inevitably be made along the way and they certainly have. The trouble is, Arsenal’s predicament is such that they simply can’t afford too many errors. The club would be plunged into a hole even deeper than this one and it would take an awfully long time to clamber out.
“So, while not much is riding on Sunday’s trip to Newcastle, it’s vital that everyone settles down to produce a disciplined display more closely aligned with the manager’s wishes. It’s about preparing for Thursday, sticking to the game plan and bringing back a sense of order to Arteta’s reign.
“Anything other than that might well end in tears.”