The Liverpool game on Monday night saw Arsenal start without Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and the same is likely to happen again at St. James’ Park.
Petr Čech helped the Gunners keep a clean sheet, but the defence was clearly very shaky without the usual stalwarts. Koscielny is still struggling to overcome a back issue and Mertesacker has a chest infection so we are expecting Calum Chambers and Gabriel to partner one another again.
Nacho Monreal was one of Arsenal’s more impressive players on the night and will keep his place, but Héctor Bellerín may face more competition with Mathieu Debuchy returning to his former home ground.
Despite a perceived lack of balance, I expect Arsène Wenger to stick with the same midfield. Francis Coquelin is Arsenal’s most defensive midfielder and Santi Cazorla is the only suitable partner for him. That once again means Aaron Ramsey will be on the right and there will be no place for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Theo Walcott as a result.
Walcott could get a game up front but that’s highly unlikely. Olivier Giroud has eight goals in six appearances against Newcastle, and has scored all three of Arsenal’s goals in the last two visits to St. James’ Park, which have both resulted in three points.