Mark Lawrenson has been surveying the clash between top of the pile and third bottom – possibility of a surprise…?

Only two team teams have scored more goals than the Gunners and only one has conceded more than the Magpies.

No wonder that Mark Lawrenson has predicted that it will be more ‘normal service’ from the home team on Saturday, with a 3-0 scoreline his likely outcome.

Summing up the unpredictability of the Premier League this season, Southampton stuffed Arsenal last Saturday, though they were back to winning ways with a win at the Emirates against Bournemouth.

On their travels Newcastle have scored a measly five but conceded 20 goals, whilst Arsenal have scored 15 at the Emirates and conceded only six.

Steve McClaren says that the players just have to keep on doing what they are doing as it is only luck that has stood between them and victory in the last three matches.

In the last eight games Newcastle have averaged only two shots on target per game and it is hard to see that average going up on Saturday.

There looks to be at least one enforced change with Anita now ruled out but as Cheick Tiote is almost certain to replace him, it suggests there is little to no chance of changing McClaren’s emphasis on all out defence.

Mark Lawrenson says that ‘Newcastle circle the wagons but the opposition always finds a way through’, hard to argue with Newcastle’s one-time defensive coach on that one and if the Newcastle boss insists on simply trying to defend on his 18 yard line then it will be very likely when, not if, Arsenal open the floodgates.

However, maybe United can draw a little inspiration from a spirited 10 man showing earlier this season, when a Coloccini own goal was the only thing separating the two teams.

Yes Steve, set Newcastle up as hard to beat…but please at least let the team carry some attacking threat to give Arsenal something to think about.

Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:

“Arsenal resumed normal service after their 4-0 defeat away to Southampton on Boxing Day with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Bournemouth two days later.

“It was a result that was never seriously in doubt once Gabriel headed in the first goal.

“At home – where they have not lost in the league since the opening day of the season – the Gunners are formidable.

“They just create so many chances and that will prove enough against a Newcastle side that are not that good defensively.

“Newcastle circle the wagons but the opposition always find a way through.”