Happy new year and welcome to 2016, a year where Arsenal sit proudly on top of the Premier League table.
You’re probably aware that in five of the last six seasons, the side who were top on new year’s day went on to win the league, so while that sounds like the perfect type of stat for Arsenal to mess with, let’s hope they don’t and manage to collect the first of many three points this afternoon against Newcastle.
Let’s just ignore the stat that tells us this is the fourth time in 14 years that Arsenal have started a new year on top of the pile and they’ve never gone on to win the title.
Resting Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Joel Campbell against Bournemouth, injuries mean that Arsene Wenger can’t rotate quite as much as he would like to, but with a week until the next game (and 11 days until the next league game) the players will be able to put their feet up shortly and finally play with all the toys they got for Christmas.
So who has the boss turned to to get the job done?
Here are the teams:
Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Kos, Monreal, Flamini, Ramsey, Ox, Ozil, Walcott, Giroud
Subs: Ospina, Gabriel, Gibbs, Chambers, Campbell, Iwobi, Jeff
Newcastle: Elliot, Mbemba, Coloccini, Dummett, Sissoko, Tiote, Colback, Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic
Subs: Darlow, Mbabu, Lascelles, Gouffran, Thauvin, De Jong, Toney
Players out injured:
Arsenal: Wilshere (ankle), Welbeck (knee), Rosicky (knee), Coquelin (knee), Arteta (ankle – doubtful), Cazorla (knee), Alexis (hamstring)
Newcastle: Anita (hamstring), Cisse (groin), Williamson (hamstring), Haidara (knee), Aarons (ankle), Krul (knee), Obertan (hamstring), Taylor (hamstring), Riviere (knee), Good (hip)
“Overall, when you look at our continuity, 2015 was a positive year because we won the FA Cup, improved our results in the Premier League at the start of the year, continued with that and today we are in a strong position,” Arsene told the official site.
“We are hungry – our hunger and desire is very strong. We have survived despite the fact that we have been hit by very bad injuries and have made some fantastic results.
“I’m happy that we could win silverware again – the FA Cup and the Community Shield,” he added. “And that we are today competing at the top of the Premier League. That’s what I work every day for. To make our fans and everyone who loves the club proud is what pleases me the most.
“Yes, for 2016 [the target] is now to be the best team.
“One thing that is very positive is that if we are the best team from January to May, we will be very happy.
“That’s our target, and knowing that the Premier League is an extremely competitive league, and looking at the results around you, of course you know that you need to put in the effort to be competitive in every game.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 2, 2016