Newcastle welcome Arsenal to St. James’ Park this Sunday with an overriding feeling of optimism in the air that the Magpies can get something – but is this misplaced?
The history books certainly favour the Gunners – the last 10 meetings between the sides have produced 10 defeats for the Magpies, with the Geordies having to endure the ignominy of a 7-3 whipping and a Theo Walcott hat-trick along the way.
The Magpies’ last result against Arsenal was a goalless stalemate in August 2011 and their most recent win was in November 2010 – with Andy Carroll bagging the winner for a side managed by Chris Hughton. Within three months, both men would be gone.
You have to dig your fingernails into the archives to retrieve the club’s last home win over the Gunners, when Nobby Solano’s late winner stole all three points for Graeme Souness’ men in December 2005.
One home win over Arsenal since May 2000 does not bode well for taking all three points this weekend. Such a wretched form guide against the Gunners suggests a mental block when faced against this particular opposition.
But let’s not forget, the likes of Bournemouth, Brighton and Nottingham Forest all made a mockery of their respective hoodoos in toppling Arsenal this season. Manchester United had lost just once at St. James’ Park since 2001 before going down to a Matt Ritchie strike in February.
With safety virtually sewn up, Newcastle will be hungry to challenge for a spot in the top 10, with certain individuals eager to make late plays for World Cup squad inclusions. Arsene Wenger has already admitted his eggs lie in the basket of the Europa League, so expect an under-strength Gunners to take to the field.
If ever there was a time to arrest a wretched slide against the North London giants and inflict upon Wenger his first Tyneside defeat in 13 years, it was this Sunday.