Arsenal v Newcastle preview: Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey missing for hosts
Last Updated: 16/12/17 1:33pm
Arsenal will be without injured duo Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey for Saturday's Premier League visit of Newcastle.
Ramsey injured his hamstring in last weekend's 1-1 draw at Southampton while Walcott (groin) is also sidelined, although the Gunners could welcome back Shkodran Mustafi as the defender is back in training following a thigh complaint.
After another disappointing draw in midweek, Arsenal are winless in three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since April - scoring just once in that run since putting five past Huddersfield in late November.
Newcastle's woeful recent form has left them just a point above the relegation zone. Rafa Benitez's men have picked up just one point in their last eight Premier League games (W0 D1 L7) - the worst points tally of any Premier League club over their last eight games. Despite such a run, club captain Jamaal Lascelles isn't panicking just yet.
"A lot of people would probably have been happy with the points we are on if they were asked at the start of the season, so I am not going to say we are in a relegation battle.
Arsene Wenger is likely to bring Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette back into his starting line-up after they were rested at West Ham, but Santi Cazorla (ankle) remains absent.
Benitez will be without midfielder Jonjo Shelvey. Shelvey starts a two-match ban after being sent off for the second time this season during Wednesday night's 1-0 home defeat by Everton.
Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic will also sit out with a back problem, but full-back Paul Dummett is available for the first time since the opening day of the campaign following a hamstring injury.
Arsenal have won each of their last nine Premier League games against Newcastle, scoring 22 goals and conceding just six.
Arsenal have only had a longer Premier League winning run against Manchester City (11 between August 1994 and September 2004) than their current run of nine against Newcastle.
Newcastle United, meanwhile, have only lost more consecutive Premier League games against Manchester City (12 between January 2009 and October 2015).
After scoring five goals from seven shots on target in their win over Huddersfield at the end of November, Arsenal have scored only two goals from 25 shots on target in their three league games during December so far.
Rafael Benitez has never won away at Arsenal in the Premier League in six attempts (W0 D2 L4) and has managed more away Premier League games there without winning than any other team.
Olivier Giroud has scored more Premier League goals against Newcastle than any other club (8) and has had a hand in six goals in four Premier League games against them at the Emirates (five goals, one assist).
Nothing has changed at Arsenal. We are 17 games into the season and they are below Burnley. That is embarrassing. You can understand after five or six games, if someone gets off to a flying start, but this is 17 games in. I don't know where Arsenal are going. I have said before that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will probably stay but now I think they have to go because they are doing nothing.
Still, I expect them to win this game. If they could have handpicked any team to play it would be Newcastle, who have completely gone. Why have Arsenal done well at home and not away? Because it's easier to play at home. You have a lot of the ball and teams come and play a different way. The teams that win trophies go away from home and stand up and win games.
PAUL PREDICTS: 4-0 (11/1 with Sky Bet)