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Per Mertesacker steps down for the Frenchman, while contract rebel Theo Walcott remains in the centre of the Gunners' attack and Cheikh Tiote returns for the Magpies

Laurent Koscielny has returned to the Arsenal starting XI for their clash with Newcastle on Saturday evening.

The Frenchman replaces Per Mertesacker from the Gunners' side that beat Wigan a week ago, meaning Theo Walcott continues in the centre of attack.

Alan Pardew has made two alterations to his side that lost in thrilling circumstances at Manchester United on Boxing Day, with Cheikh Tiote returning to the midfield.

The Ivorian comes in for Mike Williamson, with James Perch dropping into the centre of defence alongside Fabricio Coloccini.

Vurnon Anita is replaced by Gabriel Obertan in the Magpies' only other change, prompting a slight change in formation from that which lined up at Old Trafford.

Arsenal starting XI: Szczesny; Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs; Arteta, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott
Subs: Mannone, Djourou, Ramsey, Coquelin, Rosicky, Gervinho, Giroud

Newcastle starting XI: Krul; Simpson, Perch, Coloccini, Santon; Bigirimana, Tiote; Cisse, Marveaux, Obertan; Ba
Subs: Harper, Ferguson, Tavernier, Streete, Abeid, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi

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