Both of these clubs will be hoping 2016 will be a big year for them, with Arsenal targeting the league title and Newcastle hoping to find some consistency and climb the table. Arsenal go into the new year at the top of the table and they are favourites in the eyes of many, due to the inconsistency of the rest of the top clubs. It would provide the perfect opportunity to Arsene Wenger to leave the club on a high and give the club a platform to push on and become a dominant force again. Meanwhile, Newcastle are facing another relegation battle, which is hugely disappointing after the changes that took place over the summer.
Arsenal showed their ability to bounce back against Bournemouth after a disastrous defeat on Boxing Day at Southampton. They are leading the table on goal difference over Leicester, while Manchester City are only trailing by three points. It will be a close battle for the title this season unlike last year, which will only make the second half of the Premier League season even more intriguing to follow. The form of Mesut Ozil and the return of Alexis Sanchez could be the key for Arsenal as both are arguably two of the better players in the league. However, Wenger needs to add one or two players, especially defensively to ensure his side has enough to go all the way.
This season was supposed to be a new start for Newcastle under Mike Ashley after the great amount of money spent in the summer. There have been flashes of what could be under Steve McClaren, but the side finds itself in the relegation zone going into 2016. They have a lower points total than they managed in the 2008/9 season at this stage, which of course was the last time they were relegated. Concerns are growing on Tyneside and they need to address some of the problems they have in January. If they continue to play poorly over the next month, McClaren could find himself out of a job.
In the previous meeting this season, Arsenal managed to win 1-0 thanks to an own goal from Fabricio Coloccini. Newcastle played the majority of the match with ten men after Aleksandar Mitovic was sent off. Meanwhile in this fixture last season, Arsenal ran rampant winning 4-1. Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla both scored twice, while Ayoze Perez got a consolation for Newcastle.
Alexis Sanchez, Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta should all return to action in January, but this match will come too soon. Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla are still some time away from a return.
Rolando Aarons and Emmanuel Riviere are closing in on a return, but this fixture may come a week too soon. Rob Elliot is a doubt with an illness, which means that Karl Darlow is likely to continue in goal. Vurnon Anita went off injured against West Brom and is unlikely to feature on Saturday.
Arsenal have won the most matches in the Premier League this season with 12 victories.
Only Sunderland have conceded more goals than Newcastle, who have conceded 34 goals already this season, which is why they are in the bottom three.
Mesut Ozil had a mixed start to his Arsenal career after his huge money transfer from Real Madrid, but he is now establishing himself as one of the best players in the division. Arsenal have hardly missed Alexis Sanchez, mostly due to the incredible form of Mesut Ozil, who is on course to set a new record for the most assists in a Premier League season. The German has 16 assists, which is extraordinary, while he is also capable of scoring goals as he has shown on three occasions this season. At the age of 27, the midfielder is in the prime of his career and he is a leading contender for the PFA Player of the Year Award, and his claims will only be strengthened if he manages to help Arsenal win their first league title since 2003/4. His ability to spot a through ball is second to nobody in the league and his link up play with his team-mates has been excellent to watch. Arsenal have been known for playing good football, but they have lacked a quality passer of the ball, capable of creating clear cut opportunities. They now have that in Ozil and he will be hoping to add to his assist tally against Newcastle.
Newcastle will be coming to the capital with a counter-attacking mentality as they know they won’t be able to dominate the play against the league leaders. Moussa Sissoko is key to this strategy as he is quick and powerful when he is running with the ball and he is capable of carrying the ball for long distances. The Frenchman needs to have a strong finish to the season in order to secure a place in the national side ahead of the European Championships. He has the ability to create chances down the right hand side as he has shown with five assists in a under-performing Newcastle side. The Frenchman has yet to score this season, but he is a threat when he gets around the box, but Wenger will know all about Sissoko’s game and will have plans to prevent him from having a good game at the Emirates.
I think Newcastle will be a tough opposition for Arsenal as they often up their game against the bigger clubs. However Arsenal are top of the table now and need to show they are strong enough mentality to deal with setting the pace. Mesut Ozil will cause Newcastle problems and the Magpies have found it difficult preventing sides having chances against them. Arsenal should win this, but I don’t think it will be as comfortable as many are predicting it to be.
Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle.