Arsenal vs. Newcastle: 5 Magpies to Watch out for at the Emirates Stadium

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Arsenal vs. Newcastle: 5 Magpies to Watch out for at the Emirates Stadium
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Joey Barton!

To start with, may I say how glad I am that he isn't one of them. Not that he's an exceptionally gifted player, but I'll have to admit that by fair means and foul, he ends up being an effective one.

When Arsenal visited St "Even-though-we-changed-the-name-to-make-some-money-we-still-like-the-old-name" Park for our first league game of the season, Barton was at his slimy best.

He first got Premier League debutante Gervinho a red card and a three match ban by winding him up, and then riled Alex Song to the extent that the Cameroonian lost his rag, trampled on Barton and got himself his own retrospectively awarded three game suspension.

Given the early-season transfer shenanigans at the Emirates, we certainly did not need to lose Gervinho and Song for games against Liverpool, Manchester United and Swansea.

Fortunately, all that is in the distant past, and the return leg sees Arsenal in much meaner health, both of mind and body.

The injury situation is as good as it's been in a while, with only Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Per Mertesacker and Emmanuel Frimpong being long-term doubts. Yes, that's right, four long term injuries are almost like a clean bill of health at Arsenal.

Psychologically, the squad has lifted itself after its second mini-slump of the new year saw successive defeats at Milan and Sunderland. Arsenal are attacking, scoring and winning again. What more could a Gooner ask for?

Even though we're out of all the cups, we have a real battle on our hands for fourth place. Spurs are still four points ahead of us, Chelsea are level and Newcastle are just five points adrift. And as Arsene Wenger said recently, the new UEFA regulations mean that fourth place no longer guarantees a shoo-in to the Champions League proper. 

And although the Geordies have not been in the best of form in 2012, they have still held on to a highly creditable top six position. Alan Pardew, as dislikeable as he may be, has bought well, equipping his team with some potent weapons. He has also instilled a great spirit into his squad, which has resulted in them punching well above their weight. 

It isn't going to be a walk in the park tonight.

Here are five Magpies who will certainly trouble us.

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