Newcastle are still seeking their first away win of the season and came desperately close last time out. Alan Pardew was looking forward to at least gaining a point at Old Trafford on Boxing Day before receiving a “galling” blow as Javier Hernandez struck the back of the net.
Pardew’s side may take heart from that performance but things are not going to get any easier for their trip to the Emirates. Before they postponement of their Boxing day fixture against West Ham Arsenal had been on a great run of form, winning their last three in the Premier League.
Wenger’s men will be well rested and hoping that they can capitalise against a wounded Newcastle and they could again climb to as high as third with a win on Saturday.
The defeat for the Magpies on Wednesday saw them slip close to the drop zone in 15th place and will be concerned that they have lost 7 of their last 9 Premier League outings. They will hope to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three.
It is brave to expect that though with Arsenal hoping to leapfrog their North London rivals Tottenham should things all go according to plan.
The Magpies having won just one of their last 10 Premier League games against the Gunners. They have seen a player sent off in three of their last four matches with the club.
Arsenal will be heavily bolstered by the returns of Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky who have both recovered from illness. Defender Andre Santos (stomach muscle) and midfielder Abou Diaby (thigh) may return to training next week but you can’t guarantee this will be the case.
Alan Pardew on the other hand has an injury headache as he suffers fresh concerns. Cheick Tiote will unavailable due to a one match ban and Vurnon Anita is out with an ankle injury suffered in the 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford.
Mike Williamson misses out too after collecting his fifth booking in the same game. Jonas Gutierrez (knee) is amongst several midfielders out with Yohan Cabaye (groin) and Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring) as local defender Steven Taylor (also hamstring) on the sidelines, while full-back Ryan Taylor and midfielders Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic (all knee) are still out for the season it appears.
Newcastle are 10 points worse off than they were at this point last season. They will be all too aware they need another three points soon but won’t hold their breath here.
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