Arsenal begin their 2019-20 Premier League campaign with a tricky trip to Newcastle United as Unai Emery hopes to get the season underway with a win.
Newcastle United United oversaw a mixed bag of a summer as Rafael Benitez left the club. There were a few departures with Ayoze Perez catching the eye with his move to Leicester City. However, since the debacle, owner Mike Ashley has appointed Steve Bruce as the manager amid much discontent from fans. They did make some good signings in the market to bolster the team for the upcoming season.
Among the new faces is Joelinton, who is Newcastle’s record purchase to date, coming from Hoffenheim. Apart from the Brazilian, Allan Saint-Maximin and Emil Krafth are exciting signings as the club look forward to a successful season. However, to get off to a good start, they need to overcome Arsenal at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
Arsenal fans will be excited to make the trip to Newcastle to see their side play in the opener. The Gunners took advantage of the transfer window to significantly bolster their squad with key arrivals boosting their chances for the coming season. Apart from the defensive signings on deadline day, Arsenal also got Dani Ceballos and record signing Nicolas Pepe into the team.
The North Londoners have a dicey record on the road, and Unai Emery will be keen to set the record straight with a win at Newcastle. With Arsenal facing tricky fixtures against Burnley, Liverpool and Tottenham after this clash, Emery would want all three points on board before that. It is significant that Arsenal see off Newcastle or else they could be under a lot of pressure early on.
Team News & Tactics
Despite making several key signings, manager Bruce will have to contend with an injury-hit squad. DeAndre Yedlin, Florian Lejeune, Dwight Gayle and Christian Atsu are all out. Matt Ritchie has made it back to first-team training, but Jack Colback remains doubtful.
Bruce will still have a competitive squad on his hands and is likely to go with his strongest lineup against Arsenal. There is a likelihood the manager will start many of his new signings against the Gunners. Saint-Maximin and Joelinton are expected to start the game. Bruce will likely go with his standard 4-4-2 to thwart the Gunners’ approach in this opening fixture.
Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar are expected to form their partnership in central defence, with Javier Manquillo and Jetro Willems in support as full-backs. Ki Sung-yueng and Jonjo Shelvey are the likely central midfielders. Ritchie and Miguel Almiron will operate in the wide areas, while Joelinton and Saint-Maximin are expected to play up front.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Willems; Ritchie, Shelvey, Ki, Almiron; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton
Arsenal manager Emery will also assess his squad before naming a lineup. The Gunners do have their fair share of injury problems ahead of the opener. Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Kieran Tierney and Konstantinos Mavropaos are all unavailable.
There are doubts over the inclusion of new signing Nicolas Pepe, who came in late after his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations and might not be match fit yet. Alexandre Lacazette was also a doubt after sustaining an ankle injury during the pre-season.
However, the Frenchman has since recovered and participated in full training, boosting his chances of starting against Newcastle. Other new signings, David Luiz and Dani Ceballos, are fit to start the game and are in line to make their competitive debuts for Arsenal.
Emery is likely to go with a back four, with Sokratis and Luiz in central defence. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is expected to continue in his role at right-back until Bellerin returns. Nacho Monreal is expected to take the left-back spot as Kolasinac is out of the squad for off-field reasons.
Mesut Ozil and Kolasinac are out due to an ongoing police investigation over a recent attempted assault and robbery against the duo. Ceballos, Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi are expected to play in a midfield three.
Lucas Torreira’s involvement is in question due to his late arrival after his Copa America participation. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is fit to start and will lead the line, most likely alongside Lacazette, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan will play behind the duo in an attacking role.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Luiz, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka, Ceballos; Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang, Lacazette
1. Arsenal to win @ 1.72
2. Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.80
1. Arsenal Asian Handicap -1.5 @ 3.100
- Arsenal have won 12 of their last 13 competitive fixtures against Newcastle United.
- The last time Newcastle and Arsenal met in Gameweek 1 of a Premier League season was back in 2011-12, when they played out a 0-0 draw at St James’ Park.
- This will be the first time in eight seasons that Arsenal haven’t opened a league campaign with a match at the Emirates Stadium.
- Arsenal have lost four of their last six matches on the opening matchday of a Premier League season.
- Newcastle haven’t won their opening league game of a season since 2012-13.
Player to Watch
Arsenal have lacked a genuine game changer in midfield, who could successfully link with the attackers, for years. The last one to do the job perfectly was Santi Cazorla. Ever since his absence through injury and his subsequent departure, the Gunners have been on the lookout for a similar player.
Ceballos might be the answer, and his early form suggests his readiness to fill Cazorla’s boots. The Spaniard has joined Arsenal on a season-long deal from Real Madrid, but he has the chance to shine, if only for a single campaign.
Ceballos could be the key player in midfield and be the perfect player to transition play to add a new dimension to his side’s movements. He is also defensively sound, meaning Emery needs to use him wisely to get the best out of him. The Newcastle game would be a test of Ceballos’s credentials.
Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal
Despite David Luiz’s arrival late in the window, Arsenal look susceptible in defence. Newcastle have the firepower and experienced midfielders, but Arsenal might prove to be too much for them to handle. Arsenal, despite a host of injured players, have the quality to overcome Steve Bruce’s Newcastle. They are the favourites to win this clash, although they might concede a goal or two.
Arsenal’s defence is indeed a problem. However, their fantastic arsenal in midfield and the frontline suggests that Emery will look to get as many goals on board to take all three points. Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have the chance to start the season on a high note with three points and plenty of goals against Newcastle. We predict a 2-1 win for the visitors.