Arsenal v Newcastle: Gunners to start FA Cup defence with a bang

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta
Mikel Arteta's Arsenal side set out on the FA Cup trail again

Andrew Atherley expects goals in Saturday evening's FA Cup tie live on BBC1 when current holders Arsenal host fellow Premier League outfit Newcastle...

"Arsenal's second-string looks much stronger than Newcastle's and they have the advantage of being part of a set-up that has regained confidence over Christmas, whereas the visitors have been struggling on all fronts in recent weeks."

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Arsenal to win with both teams to score at 2.915/8

Arsenal v Newcastle
Saturday 9 January, 17:30
Live on BBC1

FA Cup defence begins

Holders Arsenal begin their defence of the trophy with a home tie, gunning for a fifth successful FA Cup run in the last eight years.

Since being dumped out of the League Cup just before Christmas in a heavy quarter-final defeat by Manchester City, Mikel Arteta's side have turned their form around with three straight wins in the Premier League.

Arteta is likely to make several changes to the team that has performed so well recently.

Thomas Partey could return from a thigh injury, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny also in line for midfield places.

Gabriel has been recovering from coronavirus and may not be ready to return in defence, but Calum Chambers, David Luiz, Cedric Soares and Shkodran Mustafi are all possible starters.

Joe Willock could play as a number 10 and other attackers looking to start include Nicolas Pepe, Willian, Reiss Nelson and Eddie Nketiah.

Newcastle suffering

Like Arsenal, Newcastle went out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage, losing 1-0 away to Championship side Brentford.

That is part of a six-match losing run in all competitions for Steve Bruce's squad, which was badly hit by a coronavirus outbreak in early December. Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles reportedly have been suffering long-term effects.

Ryan Fraser is another first-team regular who has been missing in recent weeks. Bruce may look to give game time to goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, defenders Paul Dummett and Javi Manquillo, midfielders Jeff Hendrick, Jonjo Shelvey and Jacob Murphy, and striker Dwight Gayle.

Isaac Hayden is available following a one-game ban.

Cup kings to reign again

In common with many FA Cup ties, the team line-ups here are likely to be much changed from the norm.

Arsenal's second-string looks much stronger than Newcastle's and they have the advantage of being part of a set-up that has regained confidence over Christmas, whereas the visitors have been struggling on all fronts in recent weeks.

The Gunners regularly change their line-up in the early rounds of cup competitions and have a good record of getting through to the later stages, and they are justifiably strong favourites for the win at 1.491/2.

Arsenal also have an incredibly strong record against the Magpies, having won 14 of the last 15 encounters (the exception was a 2-1 home win for Newcastle in the Premier League three seasons ago).

Newcastle have performed well in cup competitions under Bruce, reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup (beaten by Manchester City) last season and the same stage of the League Cup this season.

This looks difficult for them, however, with Saint-Maximin's attacking spark badly missed during his lengthy absence.

Good scoring records

Nine of Arsenal's 12 home games in all competitions this season have gone over 2.5 goals and that outcome looks likely again at 1.695/7.

It is worth noting that every visiting team has scored at the Emirates apart from Dundalk (beaten 3-0 in the Europa League).

Newcastle have been beaten to nil in their last two away games, but before that they had scored in seven of their eight trips this season in all competitions.

Arsenal to win with both teams to score at 2.915/8 is worth trying.

Opta Stat

Newcastle have been eliminated from 10 of their last 11 FA Cup ties against fellow Premier League opposition, with the exception being a 2-1 win against Blackburn in January 2012. Newcastle are 25.024/1 to win 2-1 this time.

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