Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be looking to see his side bounce back from their Champions League exit to Monaco last week, but it has to be said the Gunners put in a fine performance winning away 0-2 but that they just could not find that final goal.
A win today at St James Park would be a big shot in the Arm to Arsenal qualifying for next year’s competition which makes us think that rather than rest some of his top players like Alexis Sanchez who is long overdue a spell on the side-lines Wenger will put out a strong team knowing that after this afternoon’s games the Gunners do not play again until the fourth of April due to the international break.
Newcastle United meanwhile are playing for nothing they are not fighting for a place in Europe next season and are safe from going down.
Given the massive Geordie support the team will always put in a spirited performance but will be without top scorer Papiss Cissé who is suspended following the spitting incident with Manchester United’s Johnny Evans, while also out is defender Fabricio Coloccini who is also suspended following his dismissal in last weekend’s 3-0 loss at Everton.
On paper at least it looks like an easy win for Arsenal with the Magpies having only won one of their last six games while also not scoring in three of their last four matches.
David Ospina will remain in goal for Arsenal, and yet having managed to maintain quite a few clean sheets since becoming Arsenal’s number one, we can’t help feel as if Wenger will not try and bring in a more recognised name during the summer to put between the posts for Arsenal.
With Paulista now fit Wenger has the chance to give Mertesacker a rest but our thoughts see him leaving the big German and Laurent Koscielny in the heart of the back four with the only change being Kieran Gibbs starting at left-back in place of Nacho Monreal with Hector Bellerin staring on the right.
Francis Coquelin will be in his usual position just in front of the back four with Aaron Ramsey coming in to give Santi Cazorla a well-earned rest after having come on as a substitute against Monaco.
Mesut Ozil will be playing his number 10 role behind Giroud with Alexis Sanchez out on the left wing with perhaps Theo Walcott getting the nod over Danny Welbeck out on the right flank in order to give the England forward a day off.
The Gunners attack will once more see Olivier Giroud up front alone for Arsenal, which is another department we would like seen taken care of in the summer with the Frenchman being called upon as the work-horse of the team match after match, and while we dream of Cavani it’s hard to imagine Wenger sanctioning such a big buy.