Saturday, August 29, 2015, 9.45pm AEST, St James’ Park, watch on Fox Sports
TWO teams with vastly different Premier League expectations kick off the early fixture in match week four, with neither really setting the world on fire.
Newcastle ($6 with CrownBet.com.au) has managed two draws from its first three, but will be buoyed by its effort to hold Manchester United goal less last start.
Arsenal ($1.56 with CrownBet.com.au) (Draw is $3.95) got on the board against Crystal Palace, 2-1, after a woeful 2-0 home defeat against West Ham, but couldn’t find an opening against Liverpool in a 0-0 result earlier this week.
The draw left Newcastle one goal out of the relegation zone, while the Gunners – who finished third last year – are languishing in ninth.
A point at United is as good as a win for a Newcastle side that only just avoided relegation last season.
And captain Fabricio Coloccini certainly realised that it could prove pivotal later in the campaign.
It helped that the curly haired star was a defensive rock for the Geordies in the match.
“We are very happy,” Coloccini said.
”It is a great point for us, especially after what happened at Swansea.
“We needed a clean sheet and have been working a lot in training to make that happen.
“To get it against Manchester United and at Old Trafford makes every body every happy.
”It is not just about the four defenders and the goalkeeper – defending is about the whole team and we did that well today.
“From the striker all the way back to (goal keeper) Tim (Krul), we worked very hard for each other.
“We didn’t have a lot of possession but at Old Trafford it is always difficult to do that.
“We always tried to play but sometimes lost the ball very quickly.
“We will get better though – we will improve.
”Getting a clean sheet is very important and we will keep working in this way because it looks like we are going in the right direction.“
But sprightly winger Jack Colback wasn’t getting carried away, despite it being the Magpies’ first clean sheet of the season.
“It’s a tough game and we’ve ground out a point,” Colback said.
“Obviously it isn’t the win we wanted but Old Trafford is a tough place to come, and we will take that.
“It’s something to build on.
”Before the game we spoke about how they would come at us quickly, but we had to make sure we didn’t concede.
“They threw everything at us but we defended really well.
“The back four and Tim were exceptional – every time a ball came into the box, they were first to it.
”Coming here, you will always be defending for a lot of the game.
“We knew that and we knew we had to see it out.
“But we were also confident that we would get chances.
“We didn’t play as well as we would have liked on the ball, but that’s what we have to work towards, and it will come.
“But everyone worked so hard today and we’ve managed to get a point, which is a positive.”
Krul reckon his charges will be ready for the Gunners and hopes they can spring a surprise.
“Because of what happened last year (near relegation), nobody is expecting anything,” Krul said.
“We will surprise a few people and it’s great to be the underdogs.
“Let people talk about other teams and think we won’t be anywhere – we know different.”
The Gunners were unimpressive at home to Liverpool and really had their only off season signing of note, former Chelsea star goal keeper Petr Cech, to thank for preserving the point.
Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho hit the woodwork twice, while Cech repelled eight shots from the Liverpool attackers, and Aaron Ramsey was the only man to find the net – but he was adjudged to be off side.
The Gunners missed veteran centre back paring Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, with Gabriel Paulista and Calum Chambers both making their debuts this season.
Cech showed his class with several outstanding saves, but said he was just “in the right places at the right times.”
“I helped the team overcome a difficult moment in the first half – It is hard to believe that after all the chances that were in the game the game finished 0-0,” Cech said.
“Well I would say the positive thing out of this game was the number chances we created in the second half because we made plenty of mistakes in our positions first half and the game was played more in our half which we didn’t want.
“In the second half we improved that and we played more in the Liverpool half and we created chances.
“This is something that is positive as we managed to get back into the game after the first half and the thing is to be more efficient and clinical in front of goal to find the winning goal which we could not find today.”
Cech believes the Gunners are destined for Premier League glory, despite their indifferent start.
“I believe,” he said.
“We didn’t have the start we would like to have but I still believe we have a bunch of players with a lot of quality and some with experience and some young players who are hungry to win trophies and I believe this team has the potential to do well in this league.
“The first three games we have four points but I think there are many things which are positive which we can look forward to in the next games.
“There is 35 more games to be played and there is plenty of points to win for us.
“I believe this group is a strong group and we can put together a run and only time will tell what will happen.”
Last time out, the Gunners got home, 2-1, thanks to a brace from Olivier Giroud, which preserved the win despite a 48th minute consolation from Moussa Sissoko. The sides split possession 50 – 50 and, if that were to happen again, we’d expect the Geordies to take it.
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Daryl Janmaat, Chancel Mbemba, Fabriccio Coloccini, Massadio Haidara, Jack Colback, Vurnon Anita, Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gabriel Obertan, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Arsenal: Petr Cech, Hector Bellerín, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker, Nacho Monreal, Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sánchez, Olivier Giroud
Match result: Draw ($3.95 with CrownBet.com.au)
Correct score: 1-1 draw ($8.60 with CrownBet.com.au)
Arsenal just hasn’t been able to put it together yet. And it doesn’t look like it’s about to start against a side which is coming off a remarkable effort at Old Trafford. If it can hold the potent United side to a goal less draw at Old Trafford, then it should be able to stride out on its home pitch and do similar against an out of sorts Gunners’ side that has just two goals in three games. Let us preface this by saying that now we’ve given them a slap, the Gunners will probably put together a masterclass and ping the ball all over the park and slip five goals past Krul. But we’re going to say the monster that is Collocini and Krul the conquerer in goals will force Arsenal to continue to work hard to find the back of the net. The Gunners need more from the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and the out of sorts Aaron Ramsey if they are going to get anything more than a share of the points out of this match. Hell, Newcastle might even pinch it. It’s not like they haven’t done it before and if you saw the kid Mitrovic running around against United, you’d be slightly worried for that Arsenal back four.
First goal scorer tips
Aleksandar Mitrovic ($9 with CrownBet.com.au)
He’s only just made his full debut for the Geordies, but this kid looks the goods already. Just 20 years old, but with the poise and skill of someone far more well versed in the round ball game, Mitrovic led the line brilliantly for Newcastle in its draw with United, and might have even caused the boil over of the young season, when his almost perfect header was denied by the cross bar. Tough as nails, Mitrovic is a good old fashioned centre forward who chips away at defenders with a bit of niggle and makes them very uncomfortable with his pace and control as a target man. Should get another crack at it, despite Papiss Demba Cisse waiting in the wings.
Jack Colback ($23 with CrownBet.com.au)
As we often do for sides that are heavy under dogs, we’ve gone with a first goal scorer tip that’s a little left field, is at big odds, but is not without its chance. The fiery red head struck four goals last season and while he’s not a well known attacker, he does have a nose for goal and can finish if he gets his opportunity. Will have his work cut out for him against the class midfield of the Gunners, but this is not an impossible tip. Have a sneaky flutter and then barrack for him to get you home.
Olivier Giroud ($5 with CrownBet.com.au)
The beautiful Frenchman bagged a brace in the corresponding fixture last season as Arsenal got over the line, 2-1. He is still the Gunners most dangerous man and, considering he’s celebrating his 100th cap for Arsenal, you can expect him to be fired up for this one. Did you know only Ian Wright, Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor have scored more goals than him in their first 100 appearances for Arsenal? Those are a trio of very solid references and good enough for us to tip him as the first goal scorer for the Gunners.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ($8.60 with CrownBet.com.au)
Still just 22 years of age, it feels like this kid has been on the cusp of superstardom for about 10 years. He still has much to learn and it feels like his career could go either way, but it would be great to see him grasp an opportunity with both hands. One of the quickest players in England and is a bull on the ball, able to barge into the box. Not yet the greatest finisher, but has goals in him and is more than capable. We feel his pace will be a real hand full for the Newcastle defenders.
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