Those hoping for a repeat of last season's 4-4 thriller are likely to be disappointed.

Newcastle United V Arsenal, 16:30 GMT

Arsenal travel to St. James Park in Saturday's late kick-off as they take on Newcastle United in their season-opener.

This very same fixture produced one of the most exciting matches last season, when Arsenal surged into a 4-0 lead only to see Newcastle launch an incredible comeback to level matters by fulltime.

Much has changed since then, although it isn't in a good way for either side. Newcastle have lost their captain Kevin Nolan to West Ham and Jose Enrique to Liverpool while Joey Barton's tantrums have resulted in him being registered for a free transfer. However, they have signed a cluster of French players in Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Sylvain Marveaux, Mehdi Abeid and former Manchester United player Gabriel Obertan. After successfully defending their place in the league last season, their aim now will be to move into the top half of the table.

Arsenal, on the other hand, haven't signed any of the expected 'big names', much to the dismay of their supporters. Compounding their troubles is the fact that both Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas are set to leave for Manchester City and Barcelona respectively after manager Arsene Wenger omitted the two from his squad for the match. Wenger's activities in the transfer market was said to be the determining factor in how his side would flourish this season. If so, things look very grey for Arsenal. Amongst their four signings, only Gervinho is one who could feature regularly for the first team, while their other three signings Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Joel Campbell and Carl Jenkinsson, are long-term prospects and not the immediate solution demanded by the trophy-craving Gunners fans. However, with the end of the transfer window still far away, Arsenal do have time.

This match could be a far from the thriller it produced last season. Neither team had a great pre-season and it could take some time before they settle.

Team News

Newcastle's only injury concern is Winger Hatem Ben Arfa who sustained an ankle injury in pre-season. Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson are both fit, along with Mike Williamson who has recovered from a broken arm.

Arsenal will be without the twosome of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, who have both been omitted from the squad, while Robin van Persie and Kieran Gibbs are both doubtful after sustaining injuries against Benfica in pre-season. Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen return although Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby are both sidelined with ankle injuries.

Match Fact

Newcastle's last home win against Arsenal came back in 2005, when Nobby Solano scored with eight minutes to go.


With neither team having had a great pre-season, and a summer in general, the match could go either way, or maybe even neither way.

Newcastle 1-1 Arsenal