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Ex-Toon manager has put Gunners' upward mobility down to return to action of first-choice defenders and anticipates a 'cracking' contest at the Emirates on Monday night

EXCLUSIVE
By Rob Stewart

Former Newcastle United manager Glenn Roeder believes Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will have to devise a strategy to stifle Demba Ba to keep the Gunners’ Champions League challenge on track.

The Gunners could close the gap on third-placed Tottenham to just one point when they face Alan Pardew's side at the Emirates on Monday night but Roeder thinks the Toon’s 16-goal leading scorer could enjoy some success in London.

“There are two great goalscorers on the pitch in Robin van Persie and Demba Ba so it could be a cracker of a game,” Roeder told Goal.com.

“Newcastle have had a stutter of late but Alan Pardew has been very positive with his 4-4-2 [formation] and now it is a matter of whether he can be bold enough to play his two strikers [against Arsenal] who are both excellent signings.

“If you were looking to analyse how to stop Newcastle scoring goals then you would look to stop Demba Ba and if you do that you will go a long way to keeping a clean sheet. He has 16 goals to his name and their second highest scorer is Leon Best who has four goals to his name.

“Now he has a good ally in Papiss Cisse but I am sure Alan will be mindful of the fact that they went with two strikers against Spurs and were two goals behind after a few minutes and ended up getting beaten 5-0.

“The stage is set for a marvellous night of football because the one thing that Newcastle like to do is attack and Arsenal’s strength is really their ability to counter-attack and get from one end of the pitch to the other in three or four passes.”

Newcastle won at the Emirates last season thanks to an Andy Carroll header, but Roeder believes Arsenal will be a tougher nut to crack on this occasion.

He added: “From what potentially would have been a fixture Newcastle would have relished, thinking things were not right at Arsenal and that they could go there and get a win, they are now looking like much tougher opponents. I am not saying that Newcastle cannot win but it is a much more difficult game.

“This upturn in fortunes at Arsenal coincides with Arsene getting what the manager considers to be his best back four.

"When you couple a settled back four with Wojciech Szczesny who I consider to be one of the best young goalkeepers in the Premier League along with Tim Krul and Joe Hart then you are onto something good.

“They are all exceptional goalkeepers. But all goalies suffer when their back fours keep changing and the injury problems that Arsenal have had have hurt them.

“Arsene Wenger has always been a fantastic manager and he will always be a fantastic manager but it doesn’t matter how fantastic you are, when you have injuries  - and I know this myself from my time at West Ham and Newcastle – when your best players are injured you can’t win.

“That was the same at Everton with David Moyes who is an extremely good manager. When he had all his players out they struggled but now they are back up to full strength they are winning matches again.

"It is the same at Arsenal. The only problem they have had this season is an awful amount of injuries. Now things have settled down and results have followed.”

Roeder believes the prospect of intensifying the pressure on arch-rivals Spurs will be a further source of inspiration for Arsenal.

“With Spurs losing and Arsenal now on the up, Arsenal have an extra incentive to win,” Roeder continued.

“There is intense rivalry between Arsenal and Spurs and Harry [Redknapp] said when they were eight points ahead of Arsenal that the main aim was to finish above them and so it could be very much a case of game on if they beat Newcastle.

“Finishing third would guarantee a place in the Champions League while even though the qualifying round is against a lesser team, upsets do happen as Newcastle, Everton and Celtic have found to their cost.

“There is huge incentive for Arsenal to win and after that 3-0 win over AC Milan the team will be full of confidence.”

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