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Predicted Arsenal XI vs Newcastle: Arteta makes Partey decision, £16m Wenger signing starts

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Mikel Arteta begins his FA Cup defence this weekend as Arsenal host Newcastle United in the third round on Saturday.

The Gunners deservedly lifted the FA Cup last season to take our tally to 14 – more than any other team in the country. Arteta has a fantastic record in the competition, and he will be looking to get another trophy this term.

Newcastle are always a tricky team to face. We never know which team shows up and Arteta has to get his team right. However, many players have been waiting on the sidelines for a chance, and as risky as it may be, this is the right game for them.

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Chambers and Partey start

Bernd Leno will likely keep his place after what Alex Runarsson did against Manchester City. Arteta is likely to completely change everything else and rightly so after a hectic festive schedule.

David Luiz is set to start at the back alongside Calum Chambers. The Englishman, signed by Arsene Wenger for £16 million (BBC) in 2014, has had a torrid time due to injuries.

He missed almost a year with a knee problem but he is finally back. Chambers played the full 90 minutes against Dundalk a week after coming on for the last 20 minutes against Rapid Wien in the Europa League. He hasn’t played a game since, but it is likely he will come back in on Saturday.

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Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Cedric Soares will start instead of Hector Bellerin and Kieran Tierney. The Scotsman has arguably been our best player and he, more than anyone else, deserves a break.

The headline change will come in central midfield. Thomas Partey is likely to make his long-awaited return. The Ghanaian has been out for over a month now and his return will be a massive boost for us. Joe Willock is expected to partner him with Willian playing in a number 10 role.

Arsenal have plenty of options in attack and it will be interesting to see what Arteta does. Aubameyang and Lacazette are expected to sit out, as are Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe after their incredible performances in our last three games.

Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketiah and Nicolas Pepe are all expected to come in. The latter’s career is hanging in the balance after Saka’s emergence on the right flank. He needs to make his case and the game on Saturday is a brilliant opportunity.

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