Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.

Former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson will give his pre-match view and you can get his post-match verdict in our Talking Tactics feature on Arsenal Player.

Arsène Wenger and his side face Newcastle United at Emirates Stadium on Monday so, to find out more, we also asked journalist Lee Ryder for his thoughts and analysis.

Stewart Robson

"Alan Pardew has been able to improve the team spirit at Newcastle because they allowed Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll to leave the club. Although seen as strong characters by many, their influence was not always a healthy one. In their absence other players like Fabricio Coloccini, Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote have started to lead in a more positive manner. As a result of this better team spirit their work rate and determination has been a feature of their season.

"Newcastle start most attacks by getting the ball into their front players as quickly as possible and their midfield players support the forward pass with energy. Therefore the key to their success has been the form of Demba Ba and his combination with Papiss Cisse recently and, before that, either Shola Ameobi or Leon Best. However, unlike a lot of teams that play this way, once Newcastle get good possession in the opponent’s half they have the ability to play with quality and imagination. They will also deliver dangerous crosses at the earliest opportunity."

Scouting Report - Tactics

"In the last few games Newcastle have lined up in a 4-4-2 with Ba and Cisse as the two men up front. Alan Pardew has hinted that he could go 4-5-1 for this game, although that isn't decided yet. One of the strikers may be dropped for a more offensive midfielder so they could go in that direction.

"Whatever happens there will be goal threats all over the pitch with Ba and Cisse, while Hatem Ben Arfa could get his chance too. Then you have players like Ryan Taylor and Cabaye, who are both very useful from free-kicks, and Jonas Gutierrez who has looked dangerous in flashes this season.

"They got off to a great start this season, going 11 games unbeaten, the first of which was Arsenal on the first game of the season of course. The league table doesn't lie, it is what it is and Newcastle are where they deserve to be. From that point of view I think they have merited a top-six place but the nature of the Premier League is that you lose a couple of games and you could be in mid-table.

"I just hope Newcastle don't approach this game in the same way as they approached the Tottenham game as that was an absolute nightmare. They went out that day with the attitude that it was just a bonus game which they could go at hungry from the start but then ended up four goals down in the first half. Certainly if they don't win then that could be the top-four pipe dream over but a point could keep them in those Europa League places. They will be going down to the Emirates a little bit more cautious than their trip to White Hart Lane, just looking to take their chances when they get them.

"Ba has obviously had a great season so far and fans know plenty about him from his days at West Ham too. He already has 16 goals and missed a penalty against Sunderland so he may have something of a point to prove in this game. Cisse looks a natural-born goalscorer, so he could cause problems if he is involved. Ben Arfa, meanwhile, blows hot and cold but he is definitely a goal threat. He can be a thorn in any defence on his day.

"Cabaye works incredibly hard in midfield and he will be looking to provide something of a rearguard in front of the back four who unfortunately, I have to admit, have looked vulnerable in recent games. Against Wolves they threw away a two-goal lead and against Sunderland they found themselves a goal down. They are liable to concede and the goal difference tells its own story - 0. It's miles behind everybody else and could cost an extra point at the end of the season.

"It is always hard going down to Arsenal but we won 1-0 there last season. Getting to the nitty gritty, I think it could be a battling draw for Newcastle. I'll go for a score draw - 1-1 or 2-2."

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    12 Mar 2012