It is the competition between table leaders vs relegation contenders. Arsenal will hope to increase their winning streak while the Toons will aim to get out of the bottom three. Both teams need to put up a fight in order to start their new year on a positive note.
Since 2004, Arsenal has failed to win the title all three times when they’ve concluded a year as league leaders. Having earned the most points than any team in the calendar year of 2015 gives Arsene Wenger hope as he aims to finally break the trophy silence of 14 years.
Arsenal has won 11 of their last 14 encounters with Newcastle, losing one and drawing two. They also had a player sent off in each of the three matches they failed to win. The managers’ head to head also leans heavily towards Arsene Wenger as Steve McClaren has lost ten of their last eleven meetings.
The fixture between these two has never been short of goals. The two sides share a total tally of 18 goals in their last three meetings in the Premier League at the Emirates. Arsenal’s striker Olivier Giroud has an impressive record, scoring eight goals in his last seven matches against the Magpies.
That said, Arsene Wenger stays wary of Newcastle’s attacking options. ‘First of all they have strikers like Cisse, Mitrovic and Ayoze Perez,’ said Wenger as reported by Arsenal.com. ‘Then they have players who can make the difference in the middle of the park, like Sissoko, who is extremely dangerous going forward, especially in transitions on counter-attacks. He’s a very powerful player.
‘They have leaders at the back like Coloccini. In Wijnaldum they have a very creative player who can score goals. If you look at the names in the team, you know that this team is a potential threat.’
Arsenal has a solid home record, earning 19 points from a total of 21 in their last seven home games. They hold the home advantage but Wenger refuses to get carried away, as Newcastle has managed to snatch victories against Tottenham and Liverpool this season.
‘Like all the teams who are in an uncomfortable situation psychologically where the confidence is low, they are better away from home,’ Wenger said.
‘They have no responsibility to build the game, which demands a lot of confidence. They have the qualities to be very strong in transition. That explains why they have made some surprising results away from home.’
Arsenal will be without Arteta and Sanchez, who still need time to be match-fit and Flamini might not make an appearance because of an ankle injury. Newcastle will be without Cisse, and Elliot who is doubtful because of illness.