Arsenal Face In-Form Newcastle
By Football News
In-form Newcastle United host Arsenal on Sunday eyeing their first home Premier League win over the title contenders since 2005.
Alan Pardew's men have won seven of their last nine league fixtures, with their latest success a 5-1 hammering of Stoke City on Thursday.
That run - which includes victories over Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United - has seen Newcastle move to within three points of the UEFA Champions League places.
However, Arsenal are undefeated in their last six league trips to St James' Park, although the London club have triumphed in just two of those encounters.
Pardew is relishing the visit of Arsenal, though, and feels the clash will give him a better idea of the capabilities of his side.
"We've set ourselves up for what will be an intriguing encounter and we'll probably know a little bit more about this team after Arsenal," Pardew said.
"We've been on an incredible run really. I'm not sure if any team has beaten that run over the last nine or 10 games this season, not even Arsenal."
Midfielder Cheick Tiote returns from suspension for Newcastle after missing the win over Stoke, leaving Pardew with almost a full squad to choose from.
Arsenal will be boosted by the return of Jack Wilshere following his two-game ban for making an offensive gesture towards Manchester City fans earlier this month, but Aaron Ramsey misses out after picking up a thigh injury in Thursday's 3-1 win over West Ham.
Defender Laurent Koscielny is a doubt due to a knee problem, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also likely to be unavailable with a similar injury, although the winger is thought to be nearing his return.
The visitors' Boxing Day triumph against West Ham was their first in four league matches and moved them back to the summit of the division.
Manager Arsene Wenger felt the victory at Upton Park underlined Arsenal's title credentials, but midfielder Tomas Rosicky is expecting another stern test of their character against Newcastle.
"Obviously it will be a tough game but Newcastle will always give you a good match," Rosicky told Arsenal's official website.
"It will be very interesting, I love these kind of games so I'm very much looking forward to playing them. I think it will be an exciting match."