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PREVIEW: Arsenal v Newcastle, Team News, Starting XI & Prediction
Arsenal get back to Premier League action when we entertain Newcastle United at the Emirates tomorrow evening.
We warmed up for the game with an impressive 4-1 victory over Galatasaray on Tuesday night in our final Champions League group tie.
Unfortunately, the win once again came at a cost as Aaron Ramsey has picked up a hamstring injury and now looks set to be on the sidelines for a while.
It’s another injury blow that we can ill-afford given the current state of the squad so I just hope we can somehow cope over this busy festive period.
Tomorrow’s game is ‘must win’ after last week’s debacle at the Britannia and the atmosphere could get nasty towards Arsene Wenger if we slump to another defeat.
But Newcastle are a dangerous side, as they showed again last week with a 2-1 win over Chelsea, so it’s going to be a close game tomorrow.
So Ramsey joins Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta on the sidelines. The Spaniard is still not back from his latest calf injury but thankfully Mathieu Flamini has recovered from the minor knock he picked up in midweek.
It’s not just in midfield we’ve got problems as we head into the game with just one fit centre-back. Laurent Koscielny is out again after failing to recover from a calf problem while Nacho Monreal is still nursing a foot injury.
With Calum Chambers suspended, it means Mathieu Debuchy is expected to play alongside Mertesacker in the middle of defence. It’s a complete shambles and once again highlights Arsene’s negligible decision not to bring in another centre-back in the summer, but there’s not much we can do about it now.
Theo Walcott is back in training but isn’t fit yet, so he’s likely to join Mesut Ozil on the sidelines.
Francis Coquelin has been recalled from his loan at Charlton and goes straight into the squad but I doubt we’ll see him start tomorrow.
We have very little options in defence as they are the only four fit defenders we’ve got without calling up the kids.
The Ox is pretty much going to have to play in midfield along with Cazorla while I’d go with Lukas Podolski out wide and Welbeck through the middle.
However, I have a feeling Wenger will go with Olivier Giroud up front, and Welbeck and Sanchez on the wings.
It’s almost impossible to predict how this mash-up eleven will play tomorrow. However, Debuchy is a solid pro and should do a decent job in the middle so as long as the back four can keep it together, I think we’ll still be able to win this. Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle