Newcastle are set to travel to Arsenal on Saturday and they’ll be aiming to beat another one of the Premier League’s big boys after managing to beat Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea this season. Meanwhile Arsenal are going into the match knowing they have to win to decrease pressure on them from the fan base. Their defeat at Stoke wasn’t greeted well at all by the fans as their defence looked like it could be cut open. What are the odds that the Magpies will cause an upset against Arsenal? Newcastle will be coming to London full of confidence and will be confident they can beat a shaky Arsenal side but will they be able to win at The Emirates?
The home side have been underwhelming in the league this season, defensive injuries have played a massive part in that, but the over reliance on Alexis Sanchez is a worry long term. Throughout his career, Arsene Wenger hasn’t made a habit of losing two games on the trot, and you would expect his side to bounce back this weekend. In the week, he rested a few of his big names as they beat Galatasaray away from home in Europe. Aaron Ramsey scored twice in that match, which perhaps shows his return to form. Arsenal fans will be hoping that is the case as he has been a disappointment in the league campaign so far.
Meanwhile the visitors will be coming to London with bags of confidence after winning six of their last eight league matches. Their impressive run was thought to be at an end after a loss to West Ham and a hard earned draw against Burnley, but Newcastle inflicted a first defeat on Chelsea at the weekend. It was an impressive team display, with the defence particularly good. Injuries and suspensions are seriously hindering the squad, but the back up and youth players are really showing their worth which will please Alan Pardew, who has never had a huge squad to select from in his four years in charge at St James Park.
In this fixture last season, Arsenal managed to win 3-0 with Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud scoring the goals. This was during a period When Newcastle were struggling in the league after the sale of Yohan Cabaye. In the reverse fixture, Arsenal managed to win 1-0 with Giroud scoring again. Newcastle haven’t had much luck against Arsenal in recent seasons, their only win at the Emirates came in their first season back in the top flight with a solitary Andy Carroll goal winning it for them.
Aaron Ramsey appears to be returning to his best form after scoring three goals in the past seven days. He has been struggling to score goals this season, and his form last season was a big reason for Arsenal’s great start last campaign. In the absence of Jack Wilshere, he will be relied upon for the attacking impetus from the middle of the park. He has three goals and two assists this season in the league, which is a good start, but a player of the Welshman’s quality will be hoping to be more productive in the second half of the season. The absence of Moussa Sissoko on Saturday could allow Ramsey to thrive as Newcastle won’t have a driving force in the midfield, which will allow the home side to play higher up the pitch as Newcastle’s counter attacking game relies on the pace and strength of Sissoko. This will lead to the home side having a lot of the ball in the Newcastle half, Ramsey has the ability to both score from distance if Newcastle sit deep or play penetrative passes through to the attackers.
Jack Colback has started to build a rapport with the Newcastle fans after his summer move from local rivals Sunderland. Many thought it might be hard for Colback to win over the Toon Army, but his incredible work rate, application and passion have made him a favourite with some sections of the fan base. He has been an automatic selection for Alan Pardew, missing only one league match through suspension and he works well with Sissoko when the two play together. The return of Cheick Tiote has allowed Colback to be more offensive and he is now starting to make late runs into the box showing he can be a danger in the final third. This weekend he may be employed as the main attacking force in the midfield in the absence of Sissoko and that will give the Englishman a chance to show him a different side to his game. He was pivotal in the win against Chelsea with his bite in the midfield being key in the build up of the second goal.
Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal will be missing for another week at least, while Calum Chambers will be suspended giving Arsenal huge defensive problems. Mikel Arteta, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott won’t return until later in the Christmas period. Jack Wilshere will be out long term. Mathieu Debuchy is likely to make his Premier League return against his former club.
Newcastle are still facing a selection crisis. They had been hoping Rolando Aarons would return but he is still out. Davide Santon and Siem de Jong have returned to training, but are still a few weeks away from a first team return. Steven Taylor and Moussa Sissoko are suspended, while Fabricio Coloccini is a doubt. Jak Alnwick will make his first start for the club, Mehdi Abeid could return after missing the match against Chelsea.
Newcastle have a lot of injury problems and the absences of Moussa Sissoko and Steven Taylor will mean the side is significantly weakened from last weekend’s impressive victory against Chelsea. If Fabricio Coloccini also misses out then Arsenal are huge favourites. Arsenal have rarely lose consecutive league games under Arsene Wenger and they will be confident of a win this weekend after an encouraging performance in the Champions League. Their defense remains a concern, but the visitors also have problems at the back. It all points to lots of goals being scored on Saturday. Arsenal should just have enough attacking quality to get the three points, but it will be close.
Arsenal 3-2 Newcastle United