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Faltering Arsenal and Giroud can get back on track against their favourite opponents

28 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Faltering Arsenal and Giroud can get back on track against their favourite opponents

Arsenal have been guilty of dropping easy points in winnable games, but will be confident of bucking that trend against Newcastle on Saturday

It was supposed to be so different for Arsenal.

A strong finish to the last campaign combined with a second consecutive FA Cup triumph, followed up by beating Chelsea to the Community Shield – all were signs that pointed to this perhaps being their year.

Yet after their goalless draw with Liverpool on Monday, Arsene Wenger was reluctantly forced to admit that the Gunners’ start to the season had in fact been “very average”.

Arsenal’s problem recently has lay in their poor record against title rivals.

Last season they took just six points from a possible 18 against the rest of the top four before finishing 12 points behind eventual winners Chelsea.

Suddenly, it is a very different issue threatening to undermine them – that of a lack of ruthlessness against lesser opponents.

No goals and one point from their first two home games against West Ham and Liverpool is not a disaster by any means, but it is interesting to note that the Gunners won the same two fixtures by an aggregate score of 7-1 last season.

If they really are to make the next step towards becoming title challengers, it is vital that normal service is resumed as quickly as possible.

And when it comes to picking off smaller sides, few clubs have been as reliable victims for Arsenal over the years as Newcastle United.

The last time the Gunners lost at St James’ Park was in December 2005, winning five and drawing four of their nine visits since.

In fact, they have only lost to the Magpies once in their last 19 meetings, when Andy Carroll scored the winner in a shock 1-0 defeat at the Emirates.

They have won their last seven against Newcastle, scoring 20 in the process – and are 15/8 to score over 2.5 goals on Saturday.

Striker Olivier Giroud may not have been at his sharpest against Liverpool, but against Newcastle he always tends to prove deadly.

The Frenchman has scored nearly a fifth of his Premier League goals against the Magpies with eight in six – including three in the last two visits to St James’ which have both brought wins – and is 13/2 to score first in an Arsenal win and 9/1 to score in both halves.

Arsenal could however be hindered once again by their missing personnel at the back – with a makeshift central defensive pairing of Gabriel Paulista and Calum Chambers looking decidedly shaky against Liverpool.

With both Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker likely to be missing again, Newcastle could well pose similar problems – with both Papiss Cisse and Aleksandar Mitrovic priced at 3/1 to score at any time.  

Also likely to feature is £13m summer signing Florian Thauvin, who scored one and assisted three in little more than an hour during the 4-1 win over Northampton Town in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.

The French Under-21 international – who was tracked by Arsene Wenger while still playing for Marseille – scored just three minutes into his debut and is 7/1 to make another fast start by scoring Newcastle’s first goal.

In the decade since their last loss at St James’ Park, Arsenal have hardly come close to challenging for the title.

Should they fail to return with maximum points from one of their happiest hunting grounds on Saturday, even with less than a month of the season gone, their wait to do so looks likely to continue.

Newcastle v Arsenal match betting