Arsenal vs Newcastle: The Preview
By Rob Worthington
After a two-week break, Arsenal finally return this weekend as we host Newcastle United at the Emirates at 16:30 on Sunday afternoon. We come into the game unbeaten so far this calendar year, although we have drawn our last four games. Newcastle have won just one of their last five, but are also unbeaten in their last four league games- so both teams come into this game in similar form and level on points.
Newcastle have picked up points in North London just once in the last decade and Arsenal have lost to the Toon Army just five times in the last twenty years. Nonetheless, Newcastle have done well against the ‘Big Six’ this season shown through victories against Spurs, Man Utd and Chelsea. This record, combined with Arsenal’s recent lack of fire power going forward, makes this fixture all the more difficult to predict.
This match will see the welcome return of Sead Kolasinac and Reiss Nelson after the pair experienced short spells on the sidelines. Additionally, it is believed new signing Pablo Mari is ready to be incorporated into the squad following his January move from Flamengo. This leaves Kieran Tierney and new signing Çedric Soares the only short-term absentees remaining on the injury list. The Geordies’ injury situation is looking bleak at the moment. Their squad is ravaged with missing players with seven squad-members set to miss out this weekend including bogey-man Andy Carrol (GET IN!).
Notwithstanding the recent lack of wins, I imagine the winter-break has done this Arsenal squad the world of good and I can really see us starting a much-needed winning run against the Magpies on Sunday. I’m intrigued to see whether we’ll see an improvement in our offensive play following the break as we have shown an obvious lack of ammunition going forward thus far under Arteta, which I’m hoping was addressed in Dubai. It's also be interesting to see whether he sticks by underperforming duo Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, or whether he turns to less experienced, but exciting, young players.
The depleted nature of Newcastle’s squad and the jubilant façade of the Arsenal cohort over the break makes me believe that this fixture will spell victory for the Gunners. 3-0 to the Arsenal this Sunday with goals from Pépé and Auba. Don't let me down again Arsenal.
Predicted line-up: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac, Torreira, Xhaka, Pépé, Özil, Martinelli, Aubameyang