Newcastle aim to end their four-match winless run as well as remain at a safe distance from the relegation zone, but Arsenal are hardly the right opponent for such aspirations. The Gunners extended their winning run to six games after coming from behind to beat Everton and needless to say they will try to take all three points from St James Park as well.
New problems for Newcastle
It is strange how a single decision can change the whole course of a season, with Newcastle being the perfect proof. The Magpies had started the season in excellent manner led by impressive Andy Carroll, but they then decided to cash in on their most prized asset (I don’t blame them for that) and things started taking the wrong turn. With Carroll out of the picture, Alan Pardew paired Shola Ameobi and Leon Best in attack, what was arguably the worst attacking partnership in the league, but then Ameobi picked up an injury in the defeat to Fulham and now young Nile Ranger will have to be pushed into action sooner than expected. Seeing that Newcastle have problems in other areas as well, they certainly face an uphill task against one of the best sides in the league.
Cheik Tiote returns to the starting line-up after serving a three-match ban, but Ameobi, Ben Arfa, Ireland, Smith, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor and Gosling are all out injured.
Six wins in a row
It’s been a while since Arsenal were as consistent as they are at the moment, so the Gunners might just make this title race a lot more interesting than previous years. Arsene Wenger’s side are still in the race on all four fronts and they are just one step away from winning the Carling Cup trophy, so it looks as though this will be a pretty successful season after all. The team play really well at the moment, as witnessed by their six-match winning run, and there is no doubt they are the favourites in this tie. The Gunners showed a real character by coming from behind to beat Everton, with Robin van Persie once again showing that he is back to his best. With Wilshire, Diaby and Rosicky also back following the spell on the sidelines, the French manager now has lot more options in the centre of the park, and Samir Nasri’s absence doesn’t seem to be the problem.
Sebastien Squillaci returns from the three-match ban, but Alex Song joins Denilson, Nasri, Fabianski and Vermaelen in the infirmary.
Newcastle have absolutely no fire power up front, which means the hosts will have to keep a clean sheet if they want something from this match. That looks like mission impossible against in-form Arsenal, so backing the Gunners to win this one should be a safe bet.
Our prediction: Away win
Odds: 1.70 (7/10)
Bookmaker: Paddy Power