It's tight at the top of the Premier League table.
Should the Gunners win, they will return to the summit—a position wrestled from them on Saturday following Manchester City's win over Crystal Palace—while a victory for the Magpies will see them enter 2014 in fourth place.
Alan Pardew's men have lost just once in their last nine, while Arsene Wenger has just one loss from 12; they're very much two in-form teams, with the slight edge perhaps sitting with the away side given their superb recent record at St. James' Park.
Here, B/R will grade the players in real time for you check in on. Be sure to take a look at full-time and half-time!
|Arsenal XI vs. Newcastle|
|Player||Position||H/T Rating||F/T Rating|
Wojciech Szczesny: Had very little to do in the first half, but responded with a few timely claims in the second. Clean sheet for the Pole.
Bacary Sagna: A strong performance scared the Magpies almost entirely away from his flank.
Per Mertesacker: His usual commanding self, good when stepping in to intercept and alert in clearing danger.
Laurent Koscielny: A seamless first 45, but was dragged out often to help Gibbs. A better second 45.
Kieran Gibbs: Had Mathieu Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko running straight at him and, understandably, struggled.
Mathieu Flamini: Did OK, but much of his energies have been devoted to helping Gibbs. Switched to left-back and filled in well.
Tomas Rosicky: Bright early on but fizzled out, a bit of a non-factor. Got fouled a lot.
Jack Wilshere: Great buildup play from deep and strong running from the Englishman.
Theo Walcott: Had very little say in the matter and Davide Santon will be happy with his work. When the winger was taken off, Arsenal's out-ball disappeared. Absence felt.
Santi Cazorla: Pretty on the ball, but seemed to attracting a lot of (unpunished) fouls that wrecked the flow of his game.
Olivier Giroud: A quiet first half, a mixed second one. Scored the winner but looked poor and isolated throughout. Missed a sitter.
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