Gutierrez given goal challenge
Jonas Gutierrez has been challenged to add goals to his game to guide Newcastle to Premier League survival.
By Damian Spellman
Last Updated: 21/03/09 12:41pm
Jonas Gutierrez has been challenged to add goals to his game to inspire Newcastle to Premier League survival.
The 26-year-old Argentina international instantly established himself as a crowd favourite at St James' Park with a fine debut at Manchester United on the opening day of the season.
However, seven months on, he is still awaiting his first goal in a black and white shirt after opening his account for his country in a 2-0 friendly victory over France last month.
Now, caretaker Magpies boss Chris Hughton is hoping the winger can break his duck on Tyneside and there could hardly be a better time for him to do it than Saturday evening's Premier League clash with Arsenal.
Hughton said: "If you look at his all-round game, Jonas is a very spirited player who covers a lot of ground and will create, and of course scoring goals is always a part of that make-up.
"He would be the first to admit that he would like to be adding more goals to his performances."
Newcastle head into the game looking for only their second league win in 12 attempts and having slipped to within a hair's breadth of the relegation zone.
Indeed, they could well find themselves inside it by the time they kick off and a first win on home turf since December 21 - when the Gunners' North London neighbours Tottenham were defeated 2-1 - could hardly come at a better time.
Hughton spent more than 20 years at Spurs as both player and coach but memories of the derby rivalry with Arsenal will be put to one side this evening.
He said: "I spent an awful lot of time at Spurs and that was the big derby game but, when you come away from that, all your focus is very much on here.
"There isn't that relationship between Newcastle and Arsenal that I have been used to, so I am fully focused on getting a result for Newcastle and no other thoughts."
Having welcomed skipper Michael Owen back to action for last weekend's 1-1 draw at Hull, Hughton will be able to call upon Kevin Nolan and Habib Beye this time around as the former returns from a three-match ban.
Midfielder Danny Guthrie, too, was close to making the squad after recovering from a torn hamstring but will now have to wait until Chelsea head for Tyneside in a fortnight's time.
Hughton said: "It was just a judgment call. He has been out for a long time.
"He has been back training - he has done, probably, seven training sessions - and we just felt he needed a little bit more."