Newcastle in mood to banish painful Arsenal defeat
By Mike Collett
LONDON (Reuters) - Exactly a year to the day since losing 7-3 at Arsenal, resurgent Newcastle United can move into the top four of the Premier League if they exact revenge for that painful defeat at St James' Park on Sunday.
The Gunners head to the north-east to face Alan Pardew's in-form side as league leaders after winning 3-1 at West Ham United on Thursday.
Newcastle's 5-1 demolition of nine-man Stoke City on Boxing Day was their eighth win from their last 10 league games and Pardew expects a cracking encounter.
"Arsenal are top of the league. That is deserved as they have been the best team in the first half of the season, but we are in great shape, our place will be rocking and rolling and Arsenal know it won't be easy to turn us over," he said.
Arsenal ended a run of three league games without a win with a come from behind victory at Upton Park to revive their title hopes as the closest race for years keeps up its relentless pace through the Christmas and New Year holidays.
The season reaches the halfway mark this weekend with Arsenal top with 39 points from 18 games, with eight teams still harboring hopes of either a push for the title or the top four.
Manchester City are just a point behind the Gunners on 38, followed by Chelsea (37), Liverpool (36), Everton (34), Newcastle (33), Manchester United (31) and Tottenham Hotspur (31).
Arsenal were boosted by the return of long-term absentee Lukas Podolski at West Ham and the German marked his comeback with a goal to seal the win. Continued...