With just one victory to their name, Arsene Wenger would no doubt have hoped for a better start to the new season from his Arsenal side ahead of their trip to Newcastle United on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the home side are still awaiting their first Premier League win under the management of Steve McClaren, but they are likely to have taken some confidence from their last two outings.


This was supposed to be the year that Arsenal stepped up from top four also-rans to genuine title contenders. Of course the season is only three games old and there are still plenty of points left to play for, but Wenger's men have been less than impressive.

New signing Petr Cech, who according to Chelsea skipper John Terry would be worth up to 15 points for the Gunners, struggled on debut during the 2-0 home defeat at the hands of West Ham United, which was followed by a somewhat fortuitous 2-1 victory away at Crystal Palace.

Then, last time out against the Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium, the cliche 'a game of two halves' could not have been more accurate. During the opening 45 minutes, Arsenal's inexperienced centre-back pairing of Calum Chambers and Gabriel Paulista struggled, while numerous passes went astray from the usually dependable Santi Cazorla. But, to the home side's credit, they improved after the restart and in fact created enough chances to win the game.

Looking ahead to this game, Wenger has admitted that he is wary of Newcastle, particularly after their display at United.

"They have just come out from a good result at Manchester United so it's important that we prepare well and we give absolutely everything to win this game before the international break," he said.

Wenger's men were quite impressive on the road last term, with their return of 10 victories from 19 outings only being bettered by champions Chelsea.

Arsenal may actually relish an away trip, particularly considering that they have failed to score in five of their previous six Premier League home outings. During that same time period, on the road the North Londoners have found the net on 11 occasions.

Recent form: DDWLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWD


What a difference a week makes in football. Following a draw and a defeat from Newcastle's opening two clashes against Southampton and Swansea City respectively, questions were already being asked about whether or not McClaren had the credentials to steady what many regard to be a sinking ship.

However, a highly credible 0-0 draw away at Manchester United, followed by a comfortable 4-1 victory over League Two side Northampton Town in the League Cup, has lifted the spirits on Tyneside.

Of course it is always positive to score goals, but it was the result achieved at Old Trafford that truly caught the eye. In many ways it was a very un-Newcastle-like performance.

Having rode their luck during the opening 15 minutes - during which the hosting Red Devils could and perhaps should have scored a couple of goals - the Magpies looked a well organised unit, with Fabricio Coloccini producing a true captain's performance at the heart of the defence. The point was a welcome one given that it ended a sequence of seven straight defeats on the road, but it could have been even better had new signing Florian Thauvin been able to stretch just a little bit further in the closing stages.

Following that outing, McClaren took the opportunity to freshen his side up for the tie against Northampton as a number of players that had not featured this season took centre stage. New signing Thauvin, who opened the scoring at St James' Park, in particular earned positive reviews.

Newcastle's problems last term following the departure of Alan Pardew and the subsequent appointment ofJohn Carver were well documented and it was only a victory over West Ham United on the final day of the season that secured the club's Premier League status.

Prior to that, the team had gone 10 matches without a victory, which when you include this term's games as well, stretches to one win in 13 Premier League outings.

Recent form: DLWDLD
Recent form (all competitions): LLDLDW

Team News

Arsenal's experienced centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny sat out the 0-0 draw with Liverpool, and Wenger has confirmed that both are doubts for this encounter.

However, he did reveal that if either were to play, it would most likely be Koscielny, who has been suffering with a back injury.

Further forward, reports have suggested that England internationals Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlainare both pushing for inclusions, but it looks like they will once again have to settle for a place among the substitutes.

As for Newcastle, Aleksandar Mitrovic spearheaded the attack at Old Trafford, but Papiss Cisse could be given the nod this time around.

There could also be a return at right-back for Daryl Janmaat following his completion of a one-match suspension.

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