Arsenal v Newcastle: Educated guesswork, prediction

Andi Foster examines Arsenal's upcoming clash against Newcastle United.

It's mid-December and the festive football schedule is close to kicking in. And with no European or cup football remaining until January, Premier League clubs around the country are preparing for the busiest weeks in their calendars.

There are a lot of points to play for - and some clubs will find themselves in significantly better positions in January than they are in now. Some however will struggle, and will face an uphill battle for the rest of the season.

A number of managers have found themselves under pressure this season and the 5.30pm Saturday kick-off will see two of them go head to head. Arsene Wenger's Arsenal have stuttered throughout and find themselves in 6th place (on goal difference ahead of Newcastle).

Alan Pardew's Newcastle have experienced a resurgence since October with six wins in eight games (including against Chelsea last weekend) and now find themselves as one of the in-form teams in the Premier League.

Newcastle and Pardew are out of the woods, at least for the time being, but Arsenal are firmly in them - and a defeat would see Tuesday's Turkish victory quickly forgotten and the divide between Arsenal fans growing again. But looking at the stats, who will come out on top?

Injuries, as ever, have played a part this season for Arsenal - although they have acted as a smokescreen for their failings in the summer transfer window (not signing enough defenders).

And while Arsenal might well play some beautiful football (albeit less than they used to) they have regularly struggled with issues that should have been resolved on the training pitch and that is reflected in the fact that they have conceded an average of 1.1 goals per game at home this season (Chelsea's is 0.43).

Offensively however, Arsenal have scored an average of 1.71 goals per game and have scored in every home game. They say the best form of defence is to attack and Arsenal have no other option.

Newcastle have come through their drop in form as a stronger and more together unit - and that was something that was reflected in last weekend's victory over Chelsea.

But whilst Newcastle are very strong at home, their only blips in recent games have been on the road as they have only won once in the last 3 games.

Defensively, Newcastle are quite solid and have conceded an average of 1.25 goals per game away from St James Park (ranking them as 5th in the Premiership in this category), however it's going forward that Newcastle have struggled as they have failed to score in half of their away games this season.

Arsenal have had the upper hand in this fixture in recent years, but with both teams being buoyed by recent results it's a game that really could go either way.

As an interesting fact, 63% of Newcastle away games this season have resulted in under 2.5 goals. With Arsenal having to attack though, and with them being vulnerable at the back, that looks unlikely and a higher scoring draw wouldn't be out of the question.

Prediction: Arsenal 2 Newcastle 2

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