Arsenal v Newcastle preview
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Last Updated: 12/03/12 7:39pm
Should Arsenal pick up a fifth straight victory on Monday, they will all but end Newcastle's hopes of pipping them to a UEFA Champions League place.
The Gunners will also be aware that another victory on home soil will see them close to within a point of North London rivals Tottenham - the current occupants of third spot.
Arsene Wenger's side have been in imperious form in front of their own supporters of late, winning nine of their last 12 games and losing only one.
Talismanic skipper Robin van Persie has provided the inspiration for that run, with the Dutchman having netted 21 times in his last 20 outings at the Emirates.
He has also found the target four times in his last five meetings with Newcastle, suggesting the Magpies have yet to find a way of containing him.
Alan Pardew's side have, however, avoided defeat in their last three Premier League games with Arsenal.
That said, they have won only two of the last 18 meetings between the two sides in the top flight.
They have also struggled on their travels this season, conceding 21 times in their last eight games on the road - including five at Spurs the last time they visited North London.
Brazilian full-back Andre Santos could return to the Arsenal squad after recovering from a broken ankle.
Midfielder Mikel Arteta is available having been rested for last week's Champions League win over AC Milan after suffering a blow to the head at Liverpool, while Wales captain Aaron Ramsey (ankle) should also be involved.
Yossi Benayoun has been out with a virus, but there were no other fresh injuries picked up against Milan.
Abou Diaby (hamstring), defender Francis Coquelin (hamstring), centre-back Per Mertesacker (ankle) and midfielder Jack Wilshere (ankle) remain sidelined.
Newcastle striker Peter Lovenkrands could miss the rest of the season after he suffered a suspected ruptured thigh muscle.
The Denmark international is definitely out of the trip to Arsenal and could even have played his last game for the club with his contract due to expire at the end of the campaign.
Pardew otherwise has no fresh injury concerns, with Shola Ameobi having recovered from the bout of illness which limited him to the substitutes' bench last time out.
Long-term absentees Leon Best and Sammy Ameobi (both knee), Steven Taylor (Achilles) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) are all still missing.
Possible starting XIs
Arsenal: Szczesny, Sagna, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Gibbs, Walcott, Song, Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Van Persie.
Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Ryan Taylor, Cabaye, Tiote, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse.
Barclays Premier League
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