Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsene Wenger's side face Newcastle United at St James' Park on Saturday. To find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox.
At the start of this campaign, Arsenal became accustomed to playing a full back at centre back because of injury problems, with Nacho Monreal and Mathieu Debuchy filling in effectively.
Newcastle are now in a similar position, with Daryl Janmaat - Debuchy’s successor at right back - set to play there this weekend.
Newcastle boss John Carver has a selection headache at the back, with Steven Taylor and Paul Dummett long-term injury causalities, and captain Fabricio Coloccini suspended following his dismissal in last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Everton. Janmaat filled in alongside Mike Williamson as Newcastle played with 10 men, and could replicate the role this weekend.
“I will play in the middle of the defence if I am asked to do so, although it is not really my position,” Janmaat said this week. “If the team needs me there, I am confident I can do well there, even though I have not played as a central defender in the whole of my career.”
The alternative is Lubomir Satka, a promising 19-year-old Slovakian - and a natural centre back. He was on the bench last weekend, but is yet to play in the Premier League.
Carver is likely to field a 4-2-3-1 system. Moussa Sissoko and Jack Colback should be the midfield duo, and while both are naturally energetic players who scamper forward into attack, they could play more cautiously to protect the makeshift backline.
Carver has good options in the final third, despite striker Papiss Cisse’s suspension. Emmanuel Riviere started up front at Everton, but Ayoze Perez could return here - he runs the channels well, and offers pace in behind.
The real danger comes from the attacking trio. Sami Ameobi should start on the left, offering a turn of speed and a powerful left foot, shooting and crossing with little backlift.
Remy Cabella has returned from a knee injury; he’s a talented all-round attacker capable of both creating and scoring, and is another good dribbler.
Yoann Gouffran is also extremely quick and should play on the right. In the reverse fixture at the Emirates, he was neat and tidy in deep positions, but struggled when playing ambitious balls in the final third.
Expect Newcastle to sit deep before springing forward on the break, and with home wins over Chelsea and Liverpool this season, they can cause the big boys a real fright.
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