By Chief Sports Writer, Marley Anderson

Coming off the back of their last gasp 4-3 loss against Manchester United, Newcastle face another tricky away tie when they travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal tomorrow. The Gunners’ festive fixture list has been made easier by their game against West Ham on Wednesday being postponed thanks to a tube strike, meaning Arsene Wenger’s men have had a full week’s preparation, as opposed to Alan Pardew’s two days.

The Newcastle squad was stretched to its bare bones against Man United on Wednesday, but performed admirably as they took the game to the former champions. The efforts came at a cost though, as Pardew now has more problems to face.
Mike Williamson picked up his fifth booking of the season and will miss the trip to the capital, while Vurnon Anita will miss out through injury – inflicted by Antonio Valencia’s ugly challenge which predictably went unnoticed at Old Trafford.

James Perch is likely to slot into central defence with Fabricio Coloccini, while Anita’s absence will be plugged by the returning Cheick Tiote. Gael Bigirimana should continue in midfield and there could be a start for Sammy Ameobi as options are at a minimum.

Still missing are Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor and Haris Vuckic. Jonas Gutierrez missed the game against Man United and won’t return at Arsenal.

Arsenal are set to welcome back Olivier Giroud and Tomas Rosicky but Newcastle will be saddened by the news that Andre Santos is unavailable too. The Brazilian left-back is injured, making the Newcastle wingers less likely to have any joy down the flanks. The game will come too soon for Abou Diaby too, with the injury-prone midfielder likely to return to training next week.

Pardew has said this week that his side will adopt a similar style to the one that caused Man United so many problems in midweek, meaning another thriller could be in store. Last season’s game against Arsenal was a belter too, with Thomas Vermaelen’s late goal winning it for the Gunners.

Newcastle need the points to pull further away from the lower reaches of the table and with Arsenal hardly striking fear into many of their opponents, it could be a good chance to move above some of the teams around them. Fulham and Sunderland aren’t picking up points regularly so a win could do wonders for Pardew’s men, both in terms of confidence and league position.