Arsenal – Newcastle Preview: Gunners back in action after Boxing Day postponement

Arsene Wenger has no new injury concerns following the 1-0 win over Wigan last Saturday.

Laurent Koscielny is back fit but is unlikely to replace either Thomas Vermaelen or Per Mertesacker in the Arsenal defence.

Abou Diaby (thigh) and Andre Santos (abdominal injury) are long-term absentees for the Gunners while Lukas Fabianski (ankle) is expected back towards the end of January.

Alan Pardew’s squad, on the other hand, has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions.

While Cheikh Tiote returns after missing the match against Manchester United with suspension, Mike Williamson will miss the trip to the Emirates after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Old Trafford.

Midfielder Vurnon Anita is also likely to miss out after being stretchered off following an Antonio Valencia tackle during the United defeat.

The Magpies are still assessing Hatem Ben Arfa’s injury (hamstring), though Pardew does not expect the Frenchman to be available for the next couple of games.

Jonas Gutierrez (leg) and Yohan Cabaye (groin) are expected to be out for around six to eight weeks, while defender Steven Taylor (hamstring) could return to action early next year.

  • Mikel Arteta (pictured) has made an average of 87 passes per game this season, more than any other player.
  • The Gunners have not won back-to-back Premier League games at home since April.
  • Arsene Wenger has seen his side have a player sent off in three of their last four Premier League games against Newcastle.
  • Newcastle United have lost their last four away matches in the Premier League.
  • The Magpies have also conceded at least twice in eight of their last ten away games.
  • The last time Newcastle had fewer points after 19 games in the top-flight was 1988-89. They had 17 that year and were relegated at the end of the season.

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