Arsenal will be looking to put their midweek UEFA Champions League elimination behind them and bounce back with three points at St James’ Park this weekend that would go towards them qualifying for next season’s competition.
Newcastle are on a pretty hopeless run under John Carver currently with just one win over Aston Villa from their last six and failing to score in three of their last four.
Returning from an away day in Europe is not usually Arsène Wenger and whilst a number of injuries has prevented him giving his midfield a rest as much as he would have probably liked lately, he still has a very strong squad to pick from.
John Carver has admitted his side are down to the ‘bare bones’ and he couldn’t be more spot on when it comes to the defence. Fabricio Coloccini is suspended following his dismissal in last weekend’s 3-0 loss at Everton. Paul Dummett is still out with a knee injury. Steven Taylor is out for the season. That leaves Mike Williamson as the only out-and-out centre-back available. Daryl Janmaat could move into the middle with Ryan Taylor playing at right-back.
Massadio Haïdara is a doubt and if not fit, Jack Colback can move into the left-back role.
In midfield, Cheick Tioté, Siem de Jong and Mehdi Abeid are all missing.
Top scorer Papiss Cissé is suspended.
For once Arsenal don’t have a longer list of injuries than their opponents, although they’re not far short.
Gabriel Paulista returned to the bench midweek so Mathieu Debuchy is now the only defender missing for the Gunners.
However, a number of midfielders are missing – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby will limit the rotating Wenger can do.
Tim Krul in goal is a bonus to Newcastle who will play a maekshift defence on Saturday. Jack Colback played at left-back for a while at Sunderland and was pretty comfortable there. He has previously been playing in centre midfield for Newcastle though. Ryan Taylor has barely played football over the past two years due to injuries – as you can imagine, he’s not at his best. Daryl Janmaat is a right-back by trade. Illness has seen Jonás Gutiérrez dip too but a whole host of injuries in centre midfield should see the Argentine start.
Three changes from midweek – Kieran Gibbs back in for Nacho Monreal at left-back. Aaron Ramsey should get another start after being used as a substitute in Monaco. This would allow Santi Cazorla a rest. And Theo Walcott is due a start – he can give Danny Welbeck a rest on the right. The rest remains as you were.
Olivier Giroud vs Daryl Janmaat
The Netherlands defender is going to have a real test when he comes up against Olivier Giroud on Saturday. Arsenal’s striker has scored in his last four Premier League games, scored midweek and has seven goals in his last eight games in all competitions. Daryl Janmaat is not used to playing in the middle. It’s expected to be a long day for the Newcastle defence, team and fans in general.
Alexis Sánchez vs Ryan Taylor
Welcome back to the Premier League Ryan Taylor. Alexis Sánchez hasn’t been at his best of late but if there’s one game to get him going for the final quarter of the season then it will be at St James’ Park. Newcastle’s right-back is being thrown in due to injuries after a lengthy time out. The Chilean forward surely has the beating of Ryan Taylor in this one, for pace, power and skill.
Mesut Özil vs Vurnon Anita
Jack Colback will be missed in the middle of the park for the home side if he’s forced to play at left-back. Mesut Özil has been hit and miss of late but the German World Cup winner has a great opportunity to show what he’s capable of in front of a makeshift Newcastle defence and a midfield that is also missing a number of its better players.
1.2 – Olivier Giroud has averaged more than a goal a game versus Newcastle recently, with six goals in his last five against the Magpies.
6 – Arsenal head to St James’ Park having won the last six Premier League meetings with Newcastle.
89% – Arsenal have found their feet mid-season having won eight of their last nine Premier League matches.
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