There are no shortage of talking points when Newcastle United host Arsenal this evening as the new Premier League season begins.
Both clubs have had fascinating summers with lots of speculation and incident. It is fair to say that not much of it has been positive.
This has largely involved players leaving their respective club. Following Andy Carroll’s departure from Newcastle in January, Kevin Nolan has also left St James Park. These were Newcastle’s top two goalscorers last year and fans were frustreated with the transfer policy.
Then there has been Joey Barton of course. The former Manchester City man was made available for transfer after a fall out, he then used his Twitter page to criticse the club and overall, it has been a fairly ugly process.
As for Arsenal, the atmosphere is somewhat fragile around the club after a summer of key players leaving. Gael Clichy has moved to Manchester City, Denilson has been shipped out on loan and creative duo Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri are likely to be next on the list of departures.
Arsenal fans have been crying out for some players with Premier League experience to be signed by Arsene Wenger, but it hasn’t happened. They have been linked with Gary Cahill, Chris Samba and Phil Jagielka amongst others, but nothing has materialised.
Instead, two youngsters – Carl Jenkinson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – have been brought in as Wenger appears to stand firm on his transfer policy.
As for the team news for this evening, Barton could actually start for the hosts despite all the controversy although Hatem Ben Arfa missed out through injury.
The visitors are without Fabregas and Nasri of course, but there are more problems with Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby unavailable through injury.
Robin van Persie and Gael Clichy face late fitness tests too. In better news for the Gunners, Theo Walcott and Thomas Vermaelen are expected to be available for selection.