By Steve Wilson
BBC Match of the Day commentator
Barclays Premier League
- Venue: St James' Park
- Date: Saturday 13 August
- Kick-off: 1730 BST
- Coverage: Watch live on ESPN and highlights on Match of the Day; listen on BBC Radio 5 live and local radio; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles
Live text and stats
Saturday, 13 August 2011
Barclays Premier League
Home Team Score Away Team Time Newcastle v Arsenal 17:30
Winger Hatem Ben Arfa is Newcastle's only injury absentee after damaging his left ankle in pre-season.
Mike Williamson has recovered from a broken arm and Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson are fit.
Want-away pair Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are not in the squad while Robin van Persie (knee) and Kieran Gibbs (thigh) face late fitness tests.
Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen return but Jack Wilshere (ankle) and Abou Diaby (ankle) are definitely out.
It was early February and Arsenal were second in the Premier League, tucked nicely in Manchester United's slipstream. They were looking forward to a Champions League encounter with Barcelona with real optimism, they had reached the League Cup final and were going strong in the FA Cup.
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What's my tip for Saturday? Expect the unexpected Then they went 4-0 up at Newcastle before the ref had blown for the interval. Over my half-time cup of tea at St James' Park, I wondered just how many of the four trophies they were chasing could this Arsenal side win. You wouldn't have bet against them achieving anything on the evidence of what we had just seen.
Three-quarters of an hour is a long time in football. By full time, Arsenal's composure had been shredded; they were lucky to escape with a point after a capitulation beyond Arsene Wenger's worst night-terrors.
Within weeks, like quicksilver, all the trophies had slipped away.
Their return to St James' comes with both sides having had a turbulent summer. Cesc Fabregas, Kevin Nolan, Samir Nasri, Joey Barton, Jose Enrique and Gael Clichy have all muddied their managers' waters.
Arsenal failed to win either match at their own Emirates Cup and then lost to Benfica, whilst Newcastle even had a pre-season friendly with Fiorentina abandoned because of a waterlogged pitch.
So what's my tip for Saturday? Expect the unexpected.
- In this fixture last year, Arsenal were 4-0 up after 26 minutes and still led 4-0 with 22 minutes left - but then Newcastle struck back to earn a 4-4 draw in one of the greatest comebacks in Premier League history.
- Newcastle have not won any of their last five home matches against Arsenal (four league, one cup). Their last home win over the Gunners was in December 2005 when Nobby Solano's goal eight minutes from time gave the Magpies victory.
- Newcastle's top two scorers from last season - Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll - have both now left the club.
- Last season, the Magpies won just one of the 13 Premier League matches in which they were level at half-time.
- Newcastle's Cheik Tioté received 14 yellow cards in last season's Premier League.
- Arsenal had the best away record in last season's Premier League.
- Arsenal conceded a higher proportion of goals from set-pieces (53.5%) than any other team in the Premier League.
- The Gunners hit the woodwork more times (22) than anyone else in 2010-11.
Article Source : BBC News
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