Premier League Preview: Arsenal - Newcastle United
Sol Campbell misses out on return to Emirates.
By James Daly
Arsenal's chances of seriously challenging for honors this season will be tested by their ability to respond to defeats and the visit of Newcastle is the perfect opportunity, after the Gunners went down to an unexpected 2-1 defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek, thanks to a goal from former Emirates favorite Eduardo.
The only other blip of an otherwise superb start to the season saw Wenger's men get stunned at home to West Brom, losing 3-2, and then visit to Chelsea where they were taught a lesson. The Gunners have a chance to keep pace with The Blues at the top of the league with some winnable games against Wolves and Everton coming up, and a win over Newcastle would be the perfect catalyst.
Having recently beaten the Magpies 4-0 on Tyneside in a League Cup tie - when Wenger included some fringe players in his starting XI and Theo Walcott claimed a brace - the Gunners will be confident of claiming the three points on Sunday. Yet a clearly irritated Wenger felt his team became too comfortable after Walcott had given them the ideal start in Ukraine, so no doubt his players will resist any temptation to become casual or complacent this time.
The Toon Army's last visit to London resulted in a win - although at far less salubrious surroundings as goals from Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll secured a 2-1 win at West Ham.
But their record at Arsenal is not great, the Toon Army have scored in only two of their last seven league visits to The Gunners. And they have already lost to Arsene Wenger's men this season - in some style - getting thrashed at home in that recent League Cup tie.
But the Magpies are on a decent run, three games unbeaten, scoring nine goals in their last three games, and are fresh off the back of a 5-1 win over arch-rivals Sunderland.
That derby-day victory will no doubt have infused the squad with confidence, and they should travel south relishing the chance to put a spoke in Arsenal's normally smooth-running wheels, with skipper Kevin Nolan looking to build on his three-goal performance against the Black Cats and bolstering manager Hughton's job security.
Arsene Wenger welcomes back a quartet of stars for a much needed win after a shock Champions League defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday. Cesc Fabregas (hamstring), Andrey Arshavin (virus), Alex Song (calf) and Denilson (groin) all stayed at home during the week but are available for the visit of Newcastle.
Meanwhile, Manuel Almunia (elbow), Thomas Vermaelen (Achilles), Abou Diaby (ankle), Robin van Persie (ankle), Kieran Gibbs (knee) and Emmanuel Frimpong (knee) are all still out as Wenger has to juggle more injured stars.
Probable starting XI: Fabianski; Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy; Song, Fabregas, Denilson; Walcott, Chamakh, Nasri.
Sol Campbell won't get the chance to show Arsenal fans he still has juice left in the tank as a thigh muscle strain means he'll have to watch from the sidelines.
Hatem Ben Arfa is still recovering from a broken leg sustained on the end of a Nigel de Jong challenge up at Manchester City a month ago, while Steven Taylor (shoulder), Steve Harper (collarbone) and Dan Gosling (knee) are also absentees for Chris Hughton.
Probable starting XI: Krul; Simpson, Coloccini, Williamson, Enrique; Tiote, Barton, Nolan, Gutierrez; Ameobi, Carroll.
Top 3 Predictions
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle
- 22.6 %
Arsenal 3-1 Newcastle
- 15.9 %
Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle
- 14.04 %
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Dec 29, 2013||Newcastle 0 - Arsenal 1|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||May 19, 2013||Newcastle 0 - Arsenal 1|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Dec 29, 2012||Arsenal 7 - Newcastle 3|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Mar 12, 2012||Arsenal 2 - Newcastle 1|
|English Premier League (EPL) (EPL)||Aug 13, 2011||Newcastle 0 - Arsenal 0|
|Apr 20, 2014||Hull 0 - Arsenal 3||EPL|
|Apr 15, 2014||Arsenal 3 - West Ham 1||EPL|
|Apr 12, 2014||Wigan Athletic 1 - Arsenal 1||FA|
|Apr 6, 2014||Everton 3 - Arsenal 0||EPL|
|Mar 29, 2014||Arsenal 1 - Manchester City 1||EPL|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|