NEWCASTLE and Arsenal get the weekend underway on Saturday lunchtime. How does Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) see it going?
Newcastle v Arsenal | Saturday 12:45 | BT Sport 1
Contrasting weekends for this pair last week eh? Newcastle were widely written off but emerged with real credit in their 0-0 draw at Old Trafford. Steve McClaren organised his defence very well and they got their just rewards.
As for Arsenal, they took part in a fascinating match against Liverpool on Monday night which also finished 0-0. Sadly for them they looked miles off a title winning unit and if centre-back pairing Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are out again on Saturday then it will be a real concern.
Arsenal are best price 4/6 to win this match and that looks a really unattractive price. They haven’t clicked at all this season and conditions don’t seem right on Saturday for that to occur.
Newcastle meanwhile must be on a bit of a high after last week’s draw and subsequent Capital One Cup 4-1 win over Northampton Town midweek. New signing Florian Thauvin looks the kind of guy to capture the hearts of the Geordie faithful and at the moment there seems no need for any Prozac or embarrassing Ashley-baiting banners. No doubt that will change if they take a hammering here though. Sigh.
Last week’s resilient performance against Manchester United was so refreshing as we hadn’t witnessed anything like it under the dark days of the John Carver regime. That was the first time in 2015 they’d taken any points off a side who’d finished in last season’s Top 8.
As for Arsenal, well it simply hasn’t happened for them this season apart from that solid win over Crystal Palace. The bizarre opening weekend defeat to West Ham looks worse every week and the fans are restless. Arsenal fans restless? Ha! Now there’s a novelty.
Crucially though, they are creating chances. 40 shots is the joint best figure in the Premier League and it’s surely only a matter of time before their conversion rate of 5% improves.
The last three matches between these sides in the North East has seen Arsenal winning by the odd goal and I can see that occurring again on Saturday. The Gunners are clearly creating chances and they’ll have a point to prove here.
Their weak defence? Yeah Calum Chambers looked like a kid who’d won a competition to play for Arsenal on Monday night, but crucially they didn’t concede. And that was against a better side than Newcastle. Don’t expect a vintage Gunners performance, but they should have enough in the tank to pick up the points.
Newcastle v Arsenal – Arsenal to win by exactly one goal (11/4 Skybet)
The weekend gets underway with Arsenal hosting Newcastle.
If you don’t have a Betfair account you qualify for odds of 5/1 on Arsenal.