The work-in-progress that is Newcastle took a lurch towards the positive in their last Premier League match, keeping Manchester United at bay for a goalless draw at Old Trafford. But the tests come thick and fast for Steve McClaren.
Confidence would have swelled further after a mid-week Capital One Cup shellacking of Northampton, with the reserves and fringe players firing the Magpies to a 4-1 win, but the first team will be back on the field to battle Arsenal in the Premier League’s weekend opener.
If the selected XI are to better their north London visitors at St James’ Park, at odds of 9/2, they’ll need more than the baby-step improvements they are currently making to overturn a ghastly head-to-head record.
The Gunners have won seven of the last eight league meetings with Newcastle and have enjoyed their one away day of 2015/16 far more than their two home games thus far.
A 2-1 win at Crystal Palace provided Arsene Wenger with his only triumph of the season but the outing, while far more successful in front of goal than the two scoreless games at the Emirates, still wasn’t the Gunners at their fluent best.
Another one-goal winning margin therefore looks rosy on an Arsenal side still striving to find top gear.
There is form for the 27/10 shot too, with Wenger’s mob claiming victory by just the single strike in three of their last four trips to Geordieville.
Ladbrokes make the Emirates outfit 4/7 to win at any cost and the 11/2 title shots need the three points to avoid talk of their bid for the top gong falling flat by September.
The sight of black and white shirts may spring Olivier Giroud into action along with his teammates. The Frenchman has to read daily reports of the different strikers Wenger should bring in to replace him up front, but can remind everyone of his talents against one of his favourite opponents.
Four goals in the last two league games against Newcastle is an impressive record for the striker and his output against the north east club only gets better.
The former Montpellier man has eight goals against the Magpies in six outings since arriving in the capital, and is a healthy-looking 1/1 shot to bag at anytime.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim up to £50 in free bets.