Newcastle v Arsenal: Gunners to fill their boots at St James’

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The state of the Arsenal defence has been the subject of constant low-level grumbling from Gooners all season long, but the boys in red and white still boast the league’s second best defensive record and the strength of their rearguard should see them over the line at St James’ Park, with a victory required in order to nail down the final Champions League berth.

Like it or not, the statistics speak for themselves, Arsenal cannot blame the fact they haven’t been challenging for the title this term on their defence.

That said, it has tightened up significantly in the second half of the campaign, with no-frills away wins becoming a staple feature of their diet. Five of their last seven away games have seen the opposition faithful sent home without a goal to show for their exorbitantly-priced ticket stubs.

Newcastle are running out of steam under Alan Pardew and they’ve scored one goal or less in 15 of their last 17 outings, a shocking return for a team that has had recourse to the quality of the likes Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux and Moussa Sissoko during that period.

It’s hard to see the visitors giving up a goal unless Papiss Cisse has one of his moments of divine inspiration and the away win to nil can be backed at 19/10, whilst the Arsenal clean sheet looks even better value at a stand alone 31/20.

This Gunners side have got a ruthless streak – as exhibited when condemning Wigan to relegation with a merciless exploitation of their defensive fragilities – and with Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Wojciech Szczesny and Bacary Sagna all in the team that let a 4-0 half time lead slip here two seasons ago, Arsenal will be well aware of what can happen if they let up on their foes for even a second.

With this in mind it may be worth chancing an end of season blow-out for their forwards – four of whom have fired themselves into double figures in the Premier League scoring charts this term – after all, they helped themselves to seven goals in the reverse fixture.

Theo and co are a princely 4/1 to put over 3.5 net-bulgers past the Magpies, allowing the visiting fans to relax back into their seats and begin pondering another Champions League quarter final defeat next spring.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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