Both managers of these clubs have been under intense scrutiny over the course of the season and in the case of Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, this is still occurring. With opponents Newcastle well and truly putting their bad spell behind them, it means that Gunners fans will know that this clash has the potential to be a real banana skin on Saturday evening.
Arsene Wenger might be the longest serving manager in the country, but that hasn’t stopped the Frenchman being on the receiving end of some intense pressure from his own fans this term. While some supporters have always been disgruntled with Arsenal’s lack of silverware, it has definitely taken a turn for the more serious this time around with banners being shown at recent games demanding that he leaves his post. Considering their position of 6th, this is hardly surprising. A return of twenty six points might leave them just five away from the top four, but at the same time they are thirteen away from the leaders. Their 3-2 loss to Stoke last week highlighted all of their frailties and while they did respond by thrashing Galatasaray in 4-1 fashion during the week, it’s going to take more than that to silence Wenger’s critics.
Newcastle on the other hand are in the form of their lives. At one point, Alan Pardew’s future really was hanging on by a thread and he has few friends inside St James’ Park. However, the Magpies’ decision to stick with the former Reading boss appears to have been justified for now, with Newcastle level on points with their opponents and subsequently just a handful of points away from the Champions League qualification places. They beat Chelsea in their most recent game, with this contributing to a sterling run which has seen them win seven of their last ten matches.
If we turn to team news, something that will hinder Arsenal’s chances this weekend is the absence of Aaron Ramsey who sits this one out with a hamstring problem. It gets worse for the Gunners at the back as well, with Nacho Monreal and Laurent Koscielny injured while Calum Chambers will miss out through suspension. Newcastle have problems of their own though and won’t be able to rely on Steven Taylor and Moussa Sisskoko through suspension. There is some good news for Alan Pardew in relation to Fabricio Coloccini and Mehdi Abeid, with both set to return following their spells on the sidelines.
As for a prediction, we think this one could end in a draw. Arsenal are clearly in all sorts of trouble this season although armed with the home advantage, we think they will be able to take a point off this in-form Magpies side – 1-1.