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Tuesday December 18, 2001

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Arsenal vs Newcastle

Newcastle have failed to win, and have only scored once, in their last five visits to Highbury while Arsenal are mounting a serious title challenge this season. Can Arsenal march on or will the Magpies get something from the game? Opta took a look at the evidence.

The resilience that the Gunners showed recently when they came from two goals down at home to Aston Villa to win 3-2 is the kind of spirit and determination needed to take the title. Those characteristics have also seen them achieve the second worst disciplinary record in the Premiership, but it's not all their own fault as Arsenal are the joint-second most fouled side in the top flight.

Newcastle should pose the home side more than a few problems down the flanks as they have attempted 498 crosses this season - the second highest tally in the division. Laurent Robert - doubtful through injury - has whipped over a century of balls, however, Nolberto Solano has 102 crosses to his name so the threat to the Arsenal defence should be sustained even in the Frenchman's absence.

Dealing with crosses has been a problem for the Gunners this season and between David Seaman, Richard Wright and Stuart Taylor they have dropped seven crosses so far with Wright also punching into his own net against Charlton.

Despite Newcastle's crossing prowess, the Gunners will be hot favourites. In the corresponding game last season, Arsenal won 5-0 and Ray Parlour scored a hat-trick.

Lest we forget that the game is in London and Newcastle have failed to win in the capital in the last 29 visits. A quite stupendous feat of inadequacy and a run that they will have to break eventually although few would consider it to be at Highbury.

Newcastle's Craig Bellamy could help his side's cause if he times his runs a little better, as only Kevin Phillips has been caught offside more than him in the Premiership. He is also the most tackled player in the top flight and getting caught in possession against Arsenal is a family-sized recipe for trouble.

The points should be staying in the capital, but the Magpies are playing better than they have for a long time and that no-wins-in-London feat can't last for ever, can it?


Match Referee: G.Poll

Over exuberance from the hosts this season may mean Graham Poll being a busy man on Tuesday night. However, the official has been lenient this term and has awarded an average of just 2.80 cards per game, so it could be 90 minutes of 'peace and understanding' all-round.



Arsenal's French midfielder Robert Pires will have a late fitness test on his calf problem. He was expected to be missing for three weeks after limping out of the weekend clash against West Ham. Ray Parlour will return to the starting line-up after a groin strain, but Freddie Ljungberg is still out with a back injury.

Bobby Robson will be boosted by the return of Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert for the trip to Highbury. Welshman Bellamy was suspended for the victory over Blackburn at the weekend, while Robert has recovered from a hop injury. Rob Lee is doubtful with a thigh strain, while Warren Barton, Clarence Acuna and Christian Bassedas are all definitely out. That means that Kieron Dyer could be set for his first start since February following substitute appearances in the last three games.





breaking news 

Green moves to Carlisle

Newcastle targets Koumas

Dyer suffers setback

Jenas talk dismissed

Feyenoord open for talks

league table 

Pos Team W D L Pts
1 Liverpool 10 3 2 33
2 Arsenal 8 6 2 30
3 Newcastle 9 3 4 30
4 Leeds 7 7 1 28
5 Man. Utd. 8 3 6 27



Live Commentary - Courtesy of METRORADIO


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