Match Preview: Arsenal vs. Newcastle United
The Magpies 2-1 defeat of Premier League leading Chelsea has lifted the club to seventh in the table. They have the same number of points as their opponents on Saturday. However, manager Alan Pardew has a number of major concerns going into the match, which includes an increasing number of injuries to his squad.
Arsenal fell behind Stoke City 3-0 last weekend before mounting a modest comeback in the second-half which fell short. Arsene Wenger’s club have stumbled in the league in recent weeks, having lost to Manchester United and Swansea City as well. The club played mid-week in the Champions League, beating Galatasaray 4-1.
Injuries and Suspensions
A week between matches does nothing to ease Newcastle’s on-going injury crisis. Alan Pardew deserves some credit for getting the most out of a thin squad.
Goalkeeper Rob Eliott is the latest to join the list. He tore a thigh muscle against Chelsea last week and had to be substituted. He is expected to be out for the rest of the month. First-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul is still at least a few weeks away with an ankle injury.
Mehdi Abeid has been battling a toe injury and is doubtful. Captain Fabricio Coloccini made a surprise return from a calf injury against Chelsea but remains a doubt for Saturday.
Rolando Aarons (Hamstring), Siem de Jong (thigh), Ryan Taylor (knee), Davide Santon (knee) and Gabriel Obertan (thigh) are all at least a few weeks away from returning. And there remains no timetable for Jonas Gutierrez who is now cancer free. Steven Taylor and Moussa Sissoko will both be suspended for the match.
Arsenal are the only club in the Premier League that could compare with Newcastle in terms of the number of injuries they have had this season. Aaron Ramsey (hamstring) and Mathieu Flamini (calf) sustained injuries during their last match against Galatasaray and are doubtful for Newcastle. Tomas Rosicky, Nacho Monreal, Yaya Sanogo, Theo Walcott and Mikel Arteta are all battling injuries and are not expected to play.
Serge Gnabry (knee), Mesut Ozil (knee) and Jack Wilshere (ankle) are out long-term as well. Calum Chambers was sent-off last week against Stoke and will be suspended for the match. Former Newcastle defender Mathieu Debuchy and Wojciech Szczęsny returned to action this week and should be available on Saturday.
Alan Pardew will have to readjust his line-up once against because of a serious lack of personnel. Jak Alnwick will start in goal in the absence of Eliott and Krul. The 21-year-old made some key saves to preserve Newcastle’s lead in the late stages of the match last week. Although, he could have done better on the Drogba goal.
With Sissoko suspended, Pardew could decide to play Ayoze Pérez and Papiss Cissé together again. Or he might decide to play Remy Cabella centrally instead of on the wing. Concerns about Coloccini and the suspension of Steven Taylor could mean that Pardew might have to turn towards Mike Williamson and Paul Dummett at centre back again.
Newcastle cannot afford any more injuries with a busy schedule coming up. They face Tottenham Hotspurs in the League Cup on Wednesday. That said, they are unlikely to rest very many key players for this match unless they are forced to.
Arsenal have primarily used the 4-2-3-1 formation this season in the Premier League. Wenger rested Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck, Olivier Giroud and Alexis Sanchez for the match with Galatasaray but they should factor in some way against Newcastle. Sanchez leads the club in goals with nine. Welbeck is going through a dry period with only one goal is his last seven matches.
The Gunners have fallen down the standings in recent weeks, having won just twice in their last five league matches, with three defeats. And their recent record at home is far from what is expected from a club of Arsenal’s caliber. They have two wins in their last six at the Emirates.
But Arsenal hold a decisive advantage in head-to-head meetings against Newcastle. The club have won five consecutive matches against the Magpies. That includes the 7-3 victory at Emirates in December 2012. Incredibly, Newcastle have only beaten Arsenal once in their last 17 matches in all competitions.
Newcastle earned a memorable victory last week and have demonstrated that they could lift their game for the big occasion, having beaten Manchester City in the League Cup already this season. They are in good form right now, having lost only once in their last ten matches in all competitions. Newcastle could distance themselves from the bottom-half of the table with a good run of form before the new year.
Both clubs go into this match shorthanded because of various injuries and suspensions. Arsenal have significant concerns at the back in particular. But Newcastle is forced to rely on their third-choice goalkeeper. This is bound to be a high-scoring affair. The Magpies should be able to get at least a point at the Emirates. The match ends in a draw.
Arsenal 2 – 2 Newcastle United
thats my players.