Newcastle United and Arsenal face each other on Sunday but the landscapes at the respective clubs look very different.
The Gunners are a modern superclub with a plush new stadium, boasting World Cup winners Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker and looking to get back into the Champions League via the Europa League.
Meanwhile, the Magpies returned to the top flight this season with one thing on their mind – survival. While a European run for Arsenal has been a means to an end, it would be a genuine adventure for Newcastle.
They are in the same league literally, but figuratively they are operating on different planes. They also have no shortage of problems, and neither set of fans is particularly enamoured with their respective boards.
Yet, the solutions appear to be very different. Arsenal fans think that a lot of their problems would be solved by sacking Arsene Wenger. A culture of mediocracy has set in from board level, but while that has not gone unnoticed – the recent Emirates boycotts show that – it is the Frenchman who receives the bulk of the ire.
Meanwhile, in the North East, the manager is almost the only aspect of the club that the fans are convinced is right.
The natives could not be happier that Rafa Benitez in charge of Newcastle United and he is seen as the bedrock on which progress must be built.
Everything else around Benitez – the board, the standard of the players and the ownership situation – needs changing but for as long as he’s around, Newcastle fans can believe that a better future is around the corner.
The opposite is true at Arsenal. Wenger’s prolonged presence in the dugout snuffs out any hope that the changes that need to be made from top to bottom will continue to be pushed back.
Even three FA Cups in four years, reasonably regular Champions League qualification and attractive football only provide sticking plasters. Wenger is a legend at Arsenal but only his removal from the situation at the club – as painful as it may be – can start the wheels of change in North London.
Wenger’s removal – whenever it comes – would be a symbol that the powers that be are prepared to move away from the current turmoil and towards a genuine assault on England’s summit.
Benitez’s arrival – and subsequent commitment to Newcastle in the Championship – was a similar catalyst for change and cause for optimism.
The unrest is comparable at the two clubs but at one, the manager is the root of all the rot. At the other, he is the only beacon of hope.