In 1997 Paul Merson finally got his dream move from Arsenal to Middlesbrough.
Merson’s final Premier League appearance for Arsenal at St James Park coming on 30 November 1996, helping his team to a 2-1 away win. Goals from Lee Dixon and Ian Wright overcoming an Alan Shearer goal.
The three previous Newcastle v Arsenal matches on Tyneside had seen three NUFC victories.
In the 21 years since Paul Merson left Arsenal, Newcastle have only won three more home league matches against the Gunners.
These coming in 1999/2000 (4-2 Speed (2), Shearer, Griffin), 2005/06 (1-0 Solano) and 2017/18 (2-1 Perez and Ritchie).
Looking on the bright side, Newcastle are the form team having won all home games against Arsenal since 2015/16, a season in the Championship helping.
Still a big supporter, Paul Merson admits that ‘Arsenal always give you a chance’, having conceded eight goals already in four matches.
Arsenal lucky to come away with a 3-2 win in their last PL match, having allowed even Cardiff to score two.
However, Paul Merson reckons that ‘Newcastle can’t be relied on to have a go against the big teams’ and that Newcastle ‘won’t create a million chances against the Gunners and Arsenal will create plenty.’
In April, Newcastle got the balance right between restricting Arsenal’s forwards and having a threat themselves, as well as hitting the wood work, Rafa’s team had four shots on target to Arsenal’s three, NUFC winning 2-1 as Ritchie and Perez put two of those shots away.
Much will surely depend on who Rafa Benitez has available, at the minute Ritchie looks unlikely to play but the manager set to have decisions to make on the likes of Shelvey, Yedlin and Rondon, coming back from injury and international duty respectively.
I think this is a match that could very much go either way, the key factor being just how much threat Newcastle can provide on the day.
Paul Merson talking to Sky Sports:
“Arsenal always give you a chance.
“As shown against Cardiff – That tells you everything.
“However, Newcastle can’t be relied on to have a go against the big teams.
“They won’t create a million chances against the Gunners and Arsenal will create plenty.
“Newcastle will sit back and Arsenal will break them down at some point.
“Prediction is Newcastle 1 Arsenal 2.”
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