Arsenal take a trip to the North East to take on Newcastle United this weekend.
Arsenal’s fourth game of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign sees them head to the North East to take on an improving Newcastle United side under Steve McClaren.
The former England boss has just two points from his opening three games as Newcastle manager, but the performances against Southampton, and especially at Manchester United were encouraging.
The Magpies will look to adopt a compact midfield with Georginio Wijnaldum a threat through the middle, therefore the Gunners will need to use their pace in wide areas to break them down.
Arsenal were rocked by injuries to their defence for a 0-0 draw with Liverpool, but for the large part Gabriel Paulista came in and deputised extremely well against the difficult Christian Benteke.
With Laurent Koscielny possibly still nursing a back injury, Paulista should keep his place with fellow centre-back Per Mertesacker expected to be fit after an illness ruled him out on Monday.
The Gunners must go with pace in the full-back positions and provide width when pushing forward, with Hector Bellerin better suited for this sort of encounter than former Newcastle man Mathieu Debuchy.
Fitness providing, the midfield duo of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla is unlikely to be altered much this season, with the pair providing the perfect balance between defence and attack.
Cazorla struggled to find his range in passing against Liverpool, but his role as the deep-lying playmaker is vital as he so often seeks possession of the ball and instigates attacks from deep.
Newcastle are wholly expected to remain compact, with players such as Jack Colback, Vurnon Anita and Moussa Sissoko protecting their back five and getting tight out of possession.
The Gunners must play with pace in wide areas, and there has to be a place for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain considering his excellent start to the season and evident threat going forward.
Alexis Sanchez can provide width on the other flank, leaving that central attacking role suited to either Mesut Ozil or Aaron Ramsey – the latter getting the vote mainly for his physical strengths.
With the hosts likely to drop deep, there won’t be much space in behind and Olivier Giroud’s strength and hold-up play in the centre-forward position will be more necessary than the pace of Theo Walcott.