By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Newcastle United travel to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon to take on Arsenal in Premier League action (5.30pm kick-off).
After a stuttering start to the season, the Gunners have hit some form of late and currently find themselves sixth in the table, following a narrow victory away at Wigan last time out.
In contrast, the Magpies have won just two of their last ten top flight fixtures, but a number of impressive performances in recent weeks have shown that Alan Pardew's side can match any team in the division.
When United met Arsenal last season, the sides played out a goalless draw on Tyneside on the opening day of the campaign, before Thomas Vermaelen struck an injury-time winner in the reverse fixture.
Saturday's game is the 171st match between the two clubs, and the 157th in the league. United are level with the Gunners in terms of wins against each other in all competitions.
Newcastle's allocation for this match has sold out.
March 12, 2012 - Arsenal 2 (Van Persie 15, Vermaelen 90) Newcastle 1 (Ben Arfa 14)
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs; Alex Song, Mikel Arteta; Theo Walcott, Tomas Rosicky (Aaron Ramsey 76), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Gervinho 68); Robin Van Persie
Newcastle (4-4-1-1): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon (James Perch 46); Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote (Danny Guthrie 81), Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Gabriel Obertan (Shola Ameobi 61); Demba Ba
FULL RECORD v ARSENAL
P 170 W66 D38 L66 F235 A244
(Last six games - all competitions)
Arsenal - WWLWLL
Newcastle - LWLLLW
Arsenal (v Wigan, Premier League): Wojciech Szczesny; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs; Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Aaron Ramsey 75), Santi Cazorla (Laurent Koscielny 90), Lukas Podolski (Francis Coquelin 79); Theo Walcott
Not used: Vito Mannone, Carl Jenkinson, Andrey Arshavin, Gervinho
Newcastle (v Manchester United, Premier League): Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon; James Perch, Gael Bigirimana (Gabriel Obertan 65), Vurnon Anita; Papiss Cisse (Sammy Ameobi 80), Demba Ba (Shola Ameobi 71), Sylvain Marveaux
Not used: Rob Elliot, James Tavernier, Shane Ferguson, Adam Campbell
Arsenal - Striker Olivier Giroud and midfielder Tomas Rosicky have both recovered from illness and return to the Gunners' squad, but Andre Santos (stomach muscle), Abou Diaby (thigh) and Lukasz Fabianski (ankle) remain sidelined for Arsene Wenger's side.
Newcastle - Cheick Tiote returns having served a one-game ban, but centre-back Mike Williamson is now suspended for a single match after picking up his fifth booking of the season on Boxing Day. Midfielder Vurnon Anita (ankle) is also ruled out, joining Jonas Gutierrez (knee), Steven Taylor (hamstring), Hatem Ben Arfa (hamstring), Yohan Cabaye (groin), Dan Gosling (ankle), Ryan Taylor (knee) and Haris Vuckic (knee) on the treatment table.
A WORD FROM BOTH CAMPS
Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager: "The Premier League is very difficult and the most difficult thing is obtaining consistency in your performances and your results. Newcastle have gone through a difficult start but they showed (against Manchester United) that they have qualities and they have not lost them. For us, it's important to be well focussed on this game and prepare."
Alan Pardew, Newcastle manager: "Arsenal are a great club with great players and it will be difficult for us. But if we put in the performance we did against Manchester United then they won't relish seeing us. Our performances have been terrific over the last four or five games. Hopefully we will get something for the effort and confidence and ability in each other that we are showing."
Chris Foy (Lancashire): 2012/13 record - 17 games, 31 yellow cards, 0 red cards
PLAYED FOR BOTH TEAMS
Sol Campbell, Pat Howard, Malcolm Macdonald, Kenny Sansom
FANCY A FLUTTER?
To find the best odds for Saturday's match, thanks to our Official Betting Partner Bet Butler, click here
DID YOU KNOW?
Arsenal's last result at home was a 2-0 win over West Brom, but they have failed to record back-to-back victories at the Emirates Stadium this season.