By Chris Harris

Newcastle's fans will have clocked up well over 1,000 miles by the time they complete their second round-trip from St James' Park to Emirates Stadium. At the halfway point, they are still waiting for a goal to celebrate.

Kevin Keegan's side came close to breaking the deadlock in Saturday's FA Cup tie but some wayward finishing and Gael Clichy's goal-line clearance kept the visitors at bay. Arsenal stepped up the pace after the break and romped to victory.

There was some solace for the away fans with two centre forwards and two wingers in Newcastle's starting line-up - a sure sign that Keegan is still a man who sends his players out to attack. But the new man in charge will be hoping to shore up Newcastle's leaky defence before the January transfer window closes this week.

We spoke to Lee Ryder of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle ahead of Tuesday night's game. Read on for his thoughts on Saturday's game, Keegan's tactics, strengthening the squad and Newcastle's misfortune with Cup draws this season.

Lee, what are your thoughts on Saturday's Cup tie?

I thought in the first half we played really well. It was the best brand of football we've seen for a long time at Newcastle. Sam Allardyce was very successful at Bolton but the style of play he used at Newcastle didn't really work and didn't capture the imagination of the fans. The fans like attacking football and we saw that in the first half on Saturday. In the second half Arsenal's class really shone through and Adebayor's two goals were really good. The own goal by Nicky Butt wrapped it up and the way it ended was disappointing because I do think the scoreline flattered Arsenal. I've had a look at a few Arsenal fansites and they pretty much say the same. But when you're on a high like Arsenal are, eventually you get those results if the opposition fail to take their chances.

Keegan's policy was clear with two wingers, two strikers and just one holding midfielder in his line-up.

It is an exciting time. We haven't so far been successful in the transfer window, the loss of a manager in the middle of the month is the main reason for that. But Kevin Keegan has inherited a good team, we've got some good wingers at the club. Charles N'Zogbia switched to the centre but out wide you had Damien Duff and James Milner. Having watched the Keegan team from all those years ago with Keith Gillespie and David Ginola, those type of players will excel under Keegan. We need the centre forwards to start scoring but they will get more service now so Michael Owen and Alan Smith could be a big threat on Tuesday night.

Duff looking a bit more like the player he was at Blackburn and Chelsea isn't he?

Yes, I know his confidence is quite high at the moment. It's not that long ago - against Arsenal in the League game at St. James' - that he made his comeback from a very bad foot injury he sustained at Portsmouth last April. December time was a fresh start for Damien and we should see the best of him now he's got his freshness back.

Newcastle's defensive deficiencies were clear in the second half. Is Keegan any nearer to signing a new centre back?

At the moment the clock is ticking towards January 31. We know Keegan has got a wish-list of players but whether time will beat him remains to be seen. We know we got Giuseppe Rossi and Antoine Sibierski on the last day of a previous transfer window, it all went through late on, so a lot can happen in the last few hours. I know Keegan is working hard to bring in new bodies - he certainly said he was looking for two or three new faces.

Will he make any changes for Tuesday night?

The manager hinted that Mark Viduka might be near a comeback so perhaps he'll be on the bench or he might even start. You have to remember Keegan is still experimenting really, it's only his third game in charge. He needs to see what the players can do, try different combinations and see what works for him. So there could be one or two changes but I think the bulk of the team will be the same. We know Emre won't be playing because he's suspended.

I suppose Keegan could have done without two trips to the Emirates in his first three games.

He certainly could. From Newcastle's point of view to draw Arsenal away once in the Carling Cup is unlucky enough but to draw them away in the FA Cup too is very unfortunate. That said, had we beaten Arsenal we'd have got Manchester United away! For Kevin it would have been nice to have a few home games against lesser opposition but at the end of the day we could have had a better start against Bolton but they held us. Every game between now and the end of the season is a big game and we just hope to see a bit of exciting football to go into the summer on a high.

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Chris Harris 28 Jan 2008