Arsenal will be keen to improve on their indifferent start to the season with a win away to Newcastle United, who they have beaten on each of their last three visits to Tyneside.
Holding Manchester United to a goalless draw in their last game represented a very pleasing response from Steve McClaren’s men to what was a poor showing at Swansea City the previous week. Early on it seemed that they would cave in under relentless pressure from the Red Devils, but once the storm was ridden they more than held their own and managed to prevent what would have been an ignominious eighth successive away loss. The target now for McClaren will be to register his first victory.
Aleksandar Mitrovic was given his first start for the club at Old Trafford, and did provide an attacking threat, seeing an excellent first half header come back off the crossbar. The summer signing from Anderlecht has an unpredictability factor in his game and so will fancy his chances of causing problems for an Arsenal backline that looked decidedly shaky last time out. Elsewhere, Moussa Sissoko will be keen to impress having been heavily linked with a move to the visitors last term.
After firing so many blanks in recent home matches, Arsenal will probably be delighted that they are on the road for this game. They were certainly unconvincing again against Liverpool on Monday, a match where they kept a clean sheet mainly through a combination of good fortune and a superlative goalkeeping display from Petr Cech, who showed exactly why he could turn out to be one of the biggest captures of the summer. In front of him, deputising centre-backs Gabriel Paulista and Calum Chambers struggled badly, highlighting the importance of absent duo Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
There was a clear improvement in the second half with Olivier Giroud in particular going close, but there was a general lack of fluency in their attacking play, leaving many to suggest that another top-class striker is still needed to sustain a title challenge. Karim Benzema has now ruled himself out of a move to North London, but after being called into question this is chance for the team to serve a reminder of their immense quality. It is a test of their character.
Florian Thauvin could be handed his first Premier League start for Newcastle after scoring in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. Darryl Janmaat is back from a one-match ban, while Sissoko is likely to return from a calf problem.
The two centre-backs are still a worry for Arsenal, with Mertesacker especially doubtful. Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere are still absent through injury.
Last Meeting: A spirited second half fightback from Newcastle nearly won them a share of the points back in March, but a couple of fine late saves from David Ospina ensured they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat. It was all too easy for Arsenal before the break, going two goals ahead through Olivier Giroud, who profited from set-pieces on both occasions. It looked comfortable, but the lead suddenly became fragile when Moussa Sissoko netted shortly after half-time.