Newcastle welcome Arsenal and get used to life without Andy Carroll
Newcastle v Arsenal, Premier League, St James’ Park, Saturday February 5, 3pm
WHILE the jury will still be out on most of the clubs who bought players on Monday, there is no doubt that the big losers of transfer deadline day were Newcastle United.
While receiving the sum of �35m for a player who came through their youth system is a triumph of sorts, it will be of little consolation to the Toon Army who have lost their local hero and did not have time to bring in a replacement.
While Carroll is currently injured and has not played for over a month, the 22-year-old’s 11 goals in 19 Premier League games this season, including the winner at the Emirates back in November, are one of the main reasons Newcastle are not in a relegation battle.
Ironically Carroll’s last two games for Newcastle, in December against Manchester City and Tottenham, both ended in defeat, while Alan Pardew’s side then went unbeaten for four league games that would have all been victories if not for injury-time equalisers conceded at Sunderland and to Spurs a fortnight ago.
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In between that there was an embarrassing FA Cup exit at Stevenage Borough, a result that means Pardew has only overseen nine matches in his two months in charge. In the same period Arsenal have played 14 times.
Pardew still has a strong squad at his disposal with attacking options including Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands, Leon Best and the raw but promising Nile Ranger.
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In midfield Kevin Nolan has been partnered by the impressive Ivory Coast international Cheik Tiote, who returns from a three-match ban on Saturday, with Joey Barton on the right flank and the Argentine Jonas Guttierez on the left.
At the back Steven Taylor’s absence through injury has meant an extended spell in the side for Mike Williamson, who partners another Argentine, Fabricio Coloccini, in defence with Jose Enrique and Danny Simpson at full-back and Steve Harper now back in goal ahead of the Dutchman Tim Krul.
Arsenal have already won 4-0 at St James’ Park this season in the Carling Cup back in October, and while this will be a much harder game against a full-strength side, the post-Carroll blues might last a little longer.
Prediction: Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1