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Newcastle vs Arsenal: A crucial game for the misfiring Gunners

Posted on | August 27, 2015 | No Comments

It has been a rather underwhelming start to the new season for Arsenal, who have failed to live up to their undoubted potential in the early days of the 2015-16 campaign so far.

The Gunners travel to take on Newcastle at St James’ Park this weekend with four points amassed from their first three games – a total that most of the Emirates Stadium faithful will be unhappy with. However, despite the lacklustre start Arsenal are still the favourites with Australian bookmakers to win against Newcastle, although that has as much to do with troubles at SJP as it does with the hope that this is a new, more dangerous Arsenal.

A 2-0 home defeat to West Ham on the opening day of the campaign sent reverberations through the North London club and undid the positive performances that Arsene Wenger’s side put in during pre-season.

A hard-fought 2-1 win at Selhurst Park against a much-improved Crystal Palace will be seen as the only real positive of the campaign to date, while an entertaining 0-0 draw against Liverpool on Monday night could have went either way.

Wenger may well not be all that disappointed to be hitting the road, especially given that his supremely talented team have failed to score in five of their last six Premier League games at home.

The major selection dilemma for the French tactician involves his central defensive pairing, with the Gunners boss sweating on the fitness of experienced pair Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, who both missed the clash against Liverpool.

Gabriel and Calum Chambers filled their shoes against the Merseysiders but instilled little confidence with a shaky first-half performance in particular.

Ahead of that, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been unlucky to have to sit and watch from the sidelines in the last two games, with the England international’s dynamism an asset that the visitors could well call upon.

It has been a mixed bag so far during Steve McClaren’s three-game Premier League tenure, with the sublime and ridiculous both included in the first weeks of the campaign.

The signs were there that Newcastle had been reinvented under the former England manager’s tutelage in the opening day 2-2 draw with Southampton, with Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal in particular warming the cockles of the home faithful.

The complete opposite feeling was consistently present during the Geordies’ 2-0 defeat away to Swansea, with the Tyneside outfit putting in an abject performance in South Wales.

Effort and hard work were on show last time out as Newcastle picked up a point at Old Trafford after drawing 0-0 with Manchester United, while a 4-1 win over Northampton in the Capital Cup in midweek will boost morale.

New French signing Florian Thauvin had the home crowd salivating with a star performance ion Tuesday night, taking only three minutes to find the back of the net and having a role in Newcastle’s other three goals; the former Marseille playmaker will surely be handed a Premier League debut against Arsenal.

Newcastle fans will fondly remember their resurrection and revival from trailing 4-0 to the Gunners in 2011 to salvage a 4-4 draw, and similar levels of dedication will be necessary here if the hosts are to avoid defeat.

For Arsenal, a win will get them back on track, but anything less will have people questioning their title credentials already and be a major blow heading into the international break.



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