Newcastle look to defend lead

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The Independent Online
Pavel Srnicek has two wishes as Newcastle aim to bounce back from their Old Trafford defeat against Arsenal tonight. The Czech Republic goalkeeper was beaten twice as the Premiership leaders crashed to a 2- 0 defeat against their nearest rivals, Manchester United, who narrowed the gap to just four points with Saturday's win over Queen's Park Rangers.

Although Newcastle's 100 per cent unbeaten home record stretches back 10 matches, Srnicek stressed: "I want to keep a clean sheet and hope the team play with a positive attitude.

"We have tried to put the United game behind us. We realise that everywhere we go, everyone wants to beat Newcastle. Every game is like a cup tie. We would like to put it right against Arsenal, although we know it will be difficult. They have a great defensive record away from home."

Arsenal, who suffered a surprise 3-1 home defeat against Wimbledon on Saturday, welcome back their captain Tony Adams after a stomach upset and Steve Bould, who has finished serving his suspension.

Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle manager, will be without three key players. The Northern Ireland winger Keith Gillespie has been ruled out by a thigh injury, the defender Philippe Albert has suffered a recurrence of a knee injury and the full-back John Beresford is suspended. The central defender Steve Howey is hoping to recover from flu, but Warren Barton has been struggling with a hamstring strain.

Queen's Park Rangers are another side hoping to bounce back from an Old Trafford defeat - with Daniele Dichio desperate to succeed against Chelsea. The promising young striker scored his eighth goal of the season on Saturday and seems certain to start the London derby.

"Chelsea is a big game and they are our arch-enemies, but it means even more to me," he revealed. "I am a Rangers lad, but a lot of my friends are Chelsea fans. I have got to go out and see them after the game. I can't do that if we get beaten. It is important to pick ourselves up after a bad Christmas. We didn't play that badly against United, but we have got to start believing in ourselves."

Mark Hateley could return to the side after missing the match against United, while the QPR player-manager Ray Wilkins might also come into the reckoning after being ruled out by a combination of flu and a nagging back injury.

"Mark did us a favour and came back earlier than he should have done," Wilkins said. "The foot injury is still there and I thought it best to give him a rest against United."

Chelsea are likely to keep faith with their striker Paul Furlong, who replaced the suspended Mark Hughes against Liverpool on Saturday, as the Welshman is still serving his ban. Andy Dow will continue at left-back if Andy Myers has not recovered from a thigh strain.

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