Arsenal travel to St. James’ Park to face Newcastle United as Unai Emery seeks to lock horns with compatriot Rafa Benitez as the Gunners aim for a third win in a row.
Arsenal’s season started poorly with defeats in their two opening games of the Premier League season. But the Gunners have seemingly found the rhythm in their transitional road after recording back-to-back victories against West Ham United and Cardiff City. Now the North London giants travel to St.James’ Park aiming to beat Newcastle United to make it three wins on the trot.
Arsenal have had many of their stars representing their national side over the fortnight, but all of them returned by Wednesday in time to train for the Newcastle game. With that, Emery has a full-strength squad at his disposal for the Newcastle encounter, a place where Arsenal’s recent failure might be an area of concern for the Spaniard.
Rafael Benitez, on the other hand, will be hoping his squad could emulate their performance from the last time these two teams met at St. James’ Park as the Gunners were defeated 2-1. The defeat also saw Arsene Wenger concede the North London race against rivals Tottenham as well as announce his intention to step down as Arsenal’s manager in the days that followed.
Benitez too has a full-strength squad at his disposal for the Arsenal game and will be hoping his side secure all three points to get their first win of the season as well as jump out of the 18th position on the table they currently occupy.
Team News & Tactics
Rafa Benitez has been boosted with the return of key players to his squad. Matt Ritchie and Jonjo Shelvey have both returned to full training ahead of the Arsenal clash having been sidelined so far with thigh and knee injuries respectively. But their participation as Benitez suggested depends on their evaluation before the game.
Benitez might not be able to star striker Salomon Rondon and right back DeAndre Yedlin following the pair’s late return from International action playing for their respective national sides. But this is not something Benitez has explicitly stated, so expect them to start if they are fit enough after the final session before the game.
Dubravka is expected in on goal, while Benitez will retain his usual formation this season of four defenders and five midfielders, with Shelvey expected to take his position at the base of Newcastle’s midfield. Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark are supposed to be the central defensive pair for the Magpies with Joselu expected to start up front.
Probable Starting-XI (4-5-1)–Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Shelvey, Diame, Perez, Ritchie, Kenedy; Joselu
Unai Emery has a seemingly full-strength squad ahead of their visit to Newcastle United. Many players who went on International duty returned in time for Wednesday’s training session, meaning that Arsenal have had plenty of time to prepare for this game without an apparent International football hangover.
The likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Sead Kolasinac, Laurent Koscielny and Carl Jenkinson, all of whom are long-term absentees are expected to miss this game. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech and Alexandre Lacazette will have had extra training, for they did not play a part for their national sides during the break period.
Furthermore, Alex Iwobi, who missed the Cardiff game through illness has returned to the side, although Emery is expected to name a similar starting lineup to the Cardiff game, meaning Iwobi could play a role from the bench against Newcastle. However, Emery will be pleased with the way his attackers played against Cardiff and would likely retain them.
The only expected change could be the introduction of Lucas Torreira who could make his first start for Arsenal since joining from Sampdoria in the summer. The Uruguayan has been making substitute appearances, but Emery now looks as if he is ready to start the diminutive midfielder and pair him with Granit Xhaka at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.
Probable Starting-XI (4-2-3-1) – Cech; Bellerin, Sokratis, Mustafi, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka; Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette
- Newcastle ended their ten-match losing streak against Arsenal in the Premier League with a win in this fixture last season.
- But Newcastle hasn’t won consecutive league games against Arsenal since January 1996.
- Arsenal have won more games against Everton (32) and West Ham (29) than Newcastle (26) in the Premier League
- Benitez has lost six times against Arsenal, with only Manchester United and Chelsea winning more times than the Gunners.
- Arsenal’s two victories in their last three away games are the same as in their previous 13 games before that, with the Gunners yet to win consecutive away games since May.
1. Arsenal to win @ 1.90
2. Over 9.5 Corners @ 1.83
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score anytime @ 1.83
1. Arsenal Team Goals Over 2.5 @ 3.50
Player to Watch
Lacazette had a decent first season hampered by a significant injury and a goalless streak but still finished the season as Arsenal’s top scorer for their season. This season, after a full pre-season, his general partnership with fellow frontman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, has been one of the talking points building up to Arsenal’s season.
Lacazette had to wait for three games to make his first start of the season and he repaid that faith with a goal and an assist to help Arsenal win against Cardiff during the last matchday. But such performances need to be put on consistently, and against Newcastle, Lacazette has the chance to show that he is not a hit-and-a-miss kind of player with another good performance.
Newcastle United 1-3 Arsenal
Arsenal are coming back to their usual form and taking the shape of Unai Emery’s ideas steadily. Against Newcastle, Arsenal will be raring to secure their third victory on the trot, as the Gunners are primarily known to hurt teams lying in the bottom three at any given point of the season.
Although Arsenal’s defence is still a concern and considering their state right now might concede at least one goal against the Newcastle side which has a decent quality in attack to bother any big-six opposition. However, expect Arsenal to secure all three points over the Magpies and continue their winning run in the Premier League.