Arsenal will look to end 2012 on a bright note with three consecutive Premiership victories behind them. Newcastle will be looking to put Wednesday’s heartbreaking defeat to Manchester United behind them.
Alex Ferguson might actually have done Newcastle the biggest favour they could ask for by describing them as ‘a wee club in the Northeast’ and Pardew’s injury ravaged side desperately need points with only 2 wins in their last 13.
Arsene Wenger refused to be drawn on whether he is interested in Newcastle striker Demba Ba out of respect for his opponents, ‘ like Demba Ba, yes,’ admitted Wenger. ‘I don`t think this is the right place to speak about that, because he plays against us tomorrow.
‘I wouldn`t like to put Newcastle or us or him in an uncomfortable position. If you ask me ‘Do we sign Demba Ba?’ I say no.’
He went on to acknowledge the threat caused by the partnership between Ba and Cisse upfront, ‘ ‘Cisse is a typical goal-getter and Demba Ba has great power. You feel there is a good understanding there as well.
‘They both come from Senegal and play together in the national team so there`s a good friendship as well, that makes them stronger.’
Meanwhile, Magpies boss Alan Pardew believes his side have the weaponry to worry the hosts, ‘They will match us up in midfield. We won`t get as much joy in that area. But I still think we can hurt them.
“The league suggests that Man United have stronger assets and we need to focus on the weaknesses of Arsenal and try to hurt them.”
Pardew’s quotes via the Newcastle Chronicle.
Arsenal Team News:
Arsenal welcome back Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky, who missed the trip to Wigan with the lurgy. Abou Diaby (thigh) and Andre Santos (stomach) will begin training with the squad again on Monday.
Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) is still unavailable.
Arsenal (from): Szczesny, Mannone; Jenkinson, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Arteta, Coquelin, Ramsey, Wilshere, S.Cazorla, Rosicky, Walcott, Chamberlain, Giroud, Podolski, Chamakh, Gervinho, Arshavin.
Player to watch: Theo Walcott
Walcott has started the last two games as a central striker with mixed results. At Reading his unselfish runs created space which Santi Cazorla exploited gratefully.
But Wigan’s centre halves found him easy to school and his only notable contribution- winning the penalty- came from a run from the right. It will be interesting to see where he is deployed now Giroud is fit again. I think Arsene prefers a mobile central striker, but neither Gervinho nor Walcott convince yet.
Newcastle United Team News:
Newcastle welcome Chieck Tiote back from a one game suspension, but lose Mike Williamson to the same punishment after he picked up his fifth booking of the season in the 4-3 thriller at Old Trafford.
Vurnon Anita only has ankle bruising after a poor tackle by Antonio Valencia, but will miss this game. Jonas Gutierrez (knee), Yohan Cabaye (groin), Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Ryan Taylor (knee), Dan Gosling (knee), Haris Vukcik (knee) are all out for Pardew’s injury hit squad.
Newcastle United (from): Krul, Elliot, Harper, Simpson, Santon, Ferguson, Tavernier, Coloccini, Perch, Tiote, Bigirimana, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Sammy Ameobi, Obertan, Ba, Cisse, Shola Ameobi, Ranger.
Player to watch: Demba Ba
One of the bright spots on Newcastle’s season thus far. We’re linked with him heavily and the player has lifted his skirt towards us. You know how these things usually go, right?
Match Facts & Stats
Arsenal have had a player sent off in three of their last four matches with Newcastle. (Gervinho, Diaby and Laurent Koscielny).
Mikel Arteta has made an average of 87 passes per game this season, more than any other player.
Newcastle have played the highest proportion of long passes this season (17%), Arsenal the second lowest (8%).
The two sides have played one another 170 times. Arsenal and Newcastle have won 66 apiece, with 38 draws.
The referee will be Chris Foy. Spurs fans think he is a cyclist of some sort.
Newcastle have a lot of injuries in defence and central midfield, but with the exception of Ben Arfa, none of their attacking players are injured.
I think Newcastle are going to go for Arsenal and that might play into our hands. I expect a tight 2-1 victory. Cazrola and Chamberlain for rsenal, Ba for Newcastle.
Arsenal are away at Southampton on New Year’s Day. Newcastle are at home to Everton on Wednesday night.