Arsenal v Newcastle: Gunners can establish early stranglehold over strugglers

Arsenal can complete the double over Newcastle following their 1-0 away win in August
Arsenal can complete the double over Newcastle following their 1-0 away win in August

The Premier League leaders kick off 2016 against Newcastle and Andrew Atherley expects a routine victory at the Emirates

"The majority of Arsenal's home wins are win/win - five out of six this season, nine out of 12 last season - and Newcastle have conceded in the first half of six of their nine away games (including five of the six they have lost)."

Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal/Arsenal on the Half Time/Full Time at 1.8810/11 (1pt)

Arsenal v Newcastle
Saturday January 2, 15:00

Arsenal
The Gunners bounced back from their Boxing Day drubbing at Southampton with a fairly routine 2-0 home win over Bournemouth on Monday and that, coupled with dropped points by Leicester, has put them top on goal difference at the halfway point of the Premier League season.

Getting through this quick run of games in good shape is vital for Arsenal's title challenge as they await the returns from injury of key players Alexis Sanchez and Santi Cazorla, as well as Francis Coquelin, Jack Wilshere, Tomas Rosicky and Danny Welbeck.


Newcastle
Christmas was a time for giving for Newcastle, who were beaten twice 1-0 by late goals. On Boxing Day they lost to the last kick of the match at home to Everton and then keeper Karl
Darlow's
mistake on his Premier League debut handed three points to West Brom at the Hawthorns.

Those setbacks, which came after a run of seven points from the previous nine, have put Newcastle back in the bottom three with 17 points, two from safety, and brought renewed pressure on Steve McClaren.

Rob Elliot, who has deputised well in goal for injured no.1 Tim Krul, had to miss the West Brom game through illness but is expected to return here in place of Darlow.


Match Odds
It was disturbing to see Arsenal capitulate so meekly at Southampton on Boxing Day and that was their third defeat of the season (out of a total of four) against a bottom-half team, although the only real shock was the 2-1 turnaround at West Brom, as both Southampton and Chelsea (2-0 winners at Stamford Bridge in September when Arsenal were reduced to nine men) have the underlying quality of top-half sides.

The only home defeat for Arsenal this season was on the opening day against West Ham, which did not look such a bad result once the Hammers proved it was no fluke over the next couple of months.

In short, it still takes a very well-organised side to get the better of Arsenal, and normally one with plenty of skill sprinkled on top, and Newcastle do not fit the bill on either count.

McClaren's side have caused recent upsets of their own with a 2-0 home win over Liverpool followed by their 2-1 turnaround victory at Tottenham but that still leaves them with a record of W2 D1 L5 against this season's top eight (the draw was their early 0-0 at Manchester United, which was admirable but does not look quite so good in light of United's ongoing scoring difficulties).

Arsenal did not run away with the reverse fixture in August, winning 1-0 despite playing against 10 men for most of the match after Alexsandar Mitrovic's 16th-minute dismissal, but this looks set up for a more clear-cut win.

The Gunners' record at home to bottom-half teams since the start of the 2013-14 season is W19 D3 L1, with three wins out of three this season. They can rarely be stopped without their opponents keeping a clean sheet and, with 20 goals conceded in nine away games (and only two clean sheets), Newcastle do not look well equipped to do that.


Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals is predictably short at 1.564/7, although not all of the stats point firmly in that direction.

Ten of Arsenal's 13 games at home to bottom-half teams since the start of last season have had over 2.5 goals, but Newcastle's 10 games against top-half teams this season have been split evenly between overs and unders, while Arsenal overall do not show a strong bias either way (10 overs, nine unders).

Much will depend on whether Newcastle score, as seven out of 10 have gone over 2.5 goals when they have.

Those with little faith in Newcastle's attack will have to be looking at Under 2.5 Goals at 2.727/4.


Half Time/Full Time
This option has the best statistical support in terms of the type of win Arsenal might achieve, looking for better odds than the straight win.

The majority of Arsenal's home wins come in this fashion - five out of six this season, nine out of 12 last season - and Newcastle have conceded in the first half of six of their nine away games (including five of the six they have lost).


Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal/Arsenal on the Half Time/Full Time at 1.8810/11 (1pt)


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