Will Florian Thauvin help Newcastle United gun down Arsenal?

Newcastle's Florian Thauvin (20) leads the celebrations after Siem de Jong scored against Northampton Town.
Newcastle's Florian Thauvin (20) leads the celebrations after Siem de Jong scored against Northampton Town.
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Wing wizard Florian Thauvin couldn’t have asked for a better full debut for Newcastle United.

The French forward notched one goal – a fine, acrobatic finish – before providing three assists for his teammates in the 4-1 Capital One Cup win over Northampton Town.

Thauvin must start against the Gunners, get him in from the start in place of Gabriel Obertan and let him fly at the make-shift Arsenal backline.

Granted, it was against a side from the fourth tier, but you can only play the opposition in front of you.

And his confidence will be sky high ahead of the visit of Arsene Wenger’s Gunners tomorrow lunchtime.

Head coach Steve McClaren admitted in the aftermath of the Cobblers win that the performance of Thauvin and the likes of Siem de Jong had given him a selection headache ahead of the fourth league game of the season.

It needn’t.

Thauvin must start against the Gunners, get him in from the start in place of Gabriel Obertan and let him fly at the make-shift Arsenal backline.

Wenger is missing two of his key defenders for the game at St James’s Park, with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker both losing their battles to be fit in time.

They also missed the goalless draw with Liverpool on Monday night and while the game finished all square, the game was littered with defensive errors.

That should give McClaren & Co a healthy confidence boost.

Koscielny is nursing a back injury, and is thought to have very little chance of being available for tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Mertesacker is unable to train because of a heavy illness.

Wenger is expected to give him every chance of being fit but it is understood he is way short of being match fit anyway.

Their replacements at the back are Gabriel and Calum Chambers – who both produced shaky performances in the draw at the Emirates.

Time and time again the Liverpool attack carved them open, with Philippe Coutinho twice hitting the woodwork – although Petr Cech was in fine form.

The absence of Koscielny and Mertesacker would again cause confusion and anxiety in the Arsenal defence and no doubt McClaren’s message will be to get at the Gunners from the start and let Thauvin provide the ammunition for Serbian striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Mitrovic should be chomping at the bit knowing Arsenal’s first choice defence look set to be missing.

The no-nonsense striker worked the Manchester United defence hard last weekend at Old Trafford and went agonisingly close to opening his Newcastle account with a fierce header that hit the crossbar from distance.

He thrives on crosses. And he admitted himself that he is looking forward to playing in the same side as Thauvin.

There weren’t enough crosses for him to feed off against the Red Devils but the introduction of Thauvin into the starting line-up should help on that front.

Obertan put a shift in but he doesn’t have the quality on the ball that the £13million former Marseille man does. You could see that in the win over Northampton.

Thauvin’s delivery from set pieces was impressive, causing problems with most deliveries and helping set up three goals.

A lot will be asked of Mitrovic, leading the line in the 4-2-3-1 formation. Can he deliver?

While Mitrovic needs to work on his ball retention, the signs are promising that Newcastle have added some real quality to their forward line this summer.

No doubt the Arsenal defence will attempt to wind him up, he kept his cool at Old Trafford but was involved in a tussle with Northampton defender Ryan Cresswell within minutes of coming on.

If he can keep his head, and Thauvin can reproduce the kind of form he displayed against the Cobblers against a top flight defence, albeit a weakened one, then the Toon Army could well be celebrating their first league win.

And on the back of the point at Man United and the Capital One Cup win, that would be a further welcome boost ahead of the international break.