Sunday, December 2, 2007

Newcastle vs. Arsenal: Match Preview

Arsenal travel to St. James' Park this Wednesday as they finally play their game in hand against Newcastle United. Depending on Manchester United's result tomorrow, a win at Newcastle could see Arsenal go as many as eight points clear of their nearest competition.

A Gunners win could also see Sam Allardyce fired from his new club.

Arsene Wenger's boys will be high in confidence after bouncing back from their loss against Sevilla to beat Aston Villa 2-1 over the weekend.

However, a large number of injury absences could make the job a fair bit harder.

Arsenal's two best playmakers, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Hleb, are both unlikely to feature against Newcastle, and Robin van Persie and Abou Diaby are definitely out.

Newcastle have some injuries of their own as well, and after losing their last four games in a row they will have a tough time defeating the Gunners. Steven Taylor and Cacapa may return against Arsenal, but Stephen Carr, Abdoulaye Faye, Michael Owen, Celestine Babayaro, Peter Ramage, and Damien Duff will all miss the clash.

The Arsenal lineup will likely look very similar to that which played Aston Villa on the weekend.

Manuel Almunia will start in goal behind the tough back line of Bacary Sagna, Kolo Toure, William Gallas, and Gael Clichy.

The midfield could see some changes depending on the fitness of Alex Hleb and Cesc Fabregas.

If both are out, Wenger will probably play Emmanuel Eboue on the right with Lassana Diarra and Mathieu Flamini in the middle and Theo Walcott or Eduardo on the left. Tomas Rosicky would play either in a creative midfield role, or a more advanced position behind a lone striker.

However, if one of the two is able to play, Rosicky will most likely be moved out to the left wing, with Walcott and Eduardo being relegated to the bench.

Up front, Emmanuel Adebayor looks set to once again start up front alone. The Togo striker has been in great form this season, scoring 8 goals in the Premier League to become joint top-scorer.

Even with a weakened Arsenal lineup, I think that Newcastle's confidence and injury problems should lead to an emphatic Arsenal victory. I say 3-1 to the Arsenal.