Newcastle vs Arsenal: Van Persie to do damage for depleted Gunners
Even with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left out of their squad, the scoring form of Robin Van Persie in away fixtures in 2011 should ensure they get their Premier League season off to a winning start away at Newcastle.
Arsenal’s trip to St James’ Park last season threw up one of the most unfathomable moments of the Premier League campaign, as Arsene Wenger’s team suffered the ultra rare embarrassment of throwing away a 4-0 lead.
A repeat of this drama is unlikely and it should be remembered that Arsenal had the best away record in the Premier League last season.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have won their opening-day Premier League fixture in eight of the last ten seasons, which includes a victory over Newcastle in the 2005/06 campaign.
Arsenal’s odds are 1/1 to beat Newcastle.
As Arsenal are without Fabregas, Nasri and an injured Jack Wilshere, Newcastle may fancy their chances of dominating the midfield battle and taking advantage of the off-field problems that have surrounded the Emirates, particularly in the past week.
It is 11/4 in the Premier League betting that Newcastle beat Arsenal and 12/5 that the duo play out their fifth draw in ten top-flight meetings.
Although Arsenal may be missing some of their biggest stars, the fact that Van Persie will start has to be a positive as he has scored in all of his Premier League away appearances in the current calendar year.
Van Persie is the 4/1 favourite to score first against Newcastle and he will certainly be a leading contender to top the Premier League scoring charts this season if he can stay fit.
Gervinho has also made a promising start to his Arsenal career in pre-season since signing from Lille and is 7/1 to break the deadlock, while it is 9/4 that he marks his suspected Premier League debut with a goal at any time.
Newcastle will be pinning their hopes on summer signing Demba Ba for a goal after he helped himself to seven goals in ten starts towards the end of last season in West Ham’s failed effort to survive in the Premier League.
Ba is 8/1 to be the first goalscorer against Arsenal.