Arsenal will be hoping to end their four-game winless run in the Premier League when they welcome Newcastle United to the Emirates on Sunday.
Gameweek 26 of the 2019-20 Premier League moves into its penultimate day, with two matches on show. Arsenal will be one of the teams on show on Sunday, as they play hosts to Newcastle United at the Emirates Stadium, looking to return to winning ways in top-flight football.
Arsenal have showed definitive signs of improvements under Mikel Arteta. However, the positive changes have not translated into results, with the Gunners becoming the draw specialists of the Premier League, having played out as many as 13 stalemates already this term. Arteta’s men remain unbeaten in 2020, but have drawn four of the five leagues games in this run.
Newcastle United, on the other hand, have been one of the positives of the Premier League season, having pleasantly surprised under the tutelage of Steve Bruce. The Magpies, in fact, have amassed as many points as Arsenal (31) and appear to be safe from the clutches of relegation for now. Last time out, Newcastle played out a goalless draw against Norwich City.
The reverse fixture, played at St. James’ Park back in the opening weekend, ended in a 1-0 win for Arsenal, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring the only goal of the game. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Mikel Arteta has been handed quite a boost on the injury front coming back from the winter break. Against Newcastle United on Sunday, though, the Arsenal manager will still be without four first-team players.
Pablo Mari (match fitness), Cedric Soares (knee) and Kieran Tierney (shoulder) are all expected to return within the next month, while Calum Chambers is a long-term absentee. The good news, meanwhile, is that Sead Kolasinac (thigh), Bukayo Saka (knee) and Reiss Nelson (thigh) will be in contention to feature against Newcastle.
Kolasinac, if deemed fit, should get the preference over Saka to start on the left side of the Arsenal defence. On the opposite flank, Hector Bellerin is a certain starter, while Shkodran Mustafi, who has been in fine form of late, and David Luiz will form the central defensive partnership. Bernd Leno is a certain starter in goal.
Up ahead in midfield, Matteo Guendouzi should continue to start alongside Granit Xhaka in the double pivot, with Lucas Torreira finding a place on the bench once again. The key decision in attack certres around Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli and the struggling Alexandre Lacazette.
Arteta has imposed his faith in Lacazette thus far, meaning the Frenchman should lead the line against Newcastle. Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil are certain starters for the hosts. As for the final spot, Martinelli should get the nod over Pepe.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Kolasinac; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Martinelli, Ozil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Unlike his counterpart in the Arsenal dugout, Steve Bruce has a plethora of injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of the trip to the English capital. On Sunday, the Newcastle United manager could be without as many as nine first-team players.
The likes of Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Javier Manquillo (thigh), Andy Carroll (groin) and Emil Krafth (ankle) should all return in the next few weeks. Paul Dummett (thigh), Jetro Willems (knee) and Jack Colback (knee) are all done for the season, while Yoshinori Muto and Dwight Gayle are facing a race against time to make themselves available for the trip to take on Arsenal.
Despite the number of absentees, Bruce still has plenty of resources at his disposal, courtesy the loan signings Newcastle made late in the January transfer window. Three of these loan arrivals will likely start against Arsenal, with Danny Rose and Valentino Lazaro starting as the two wing-backs, while Nabil Bentaleb is expected to feature in midfield in the absence of Shelvey.
Bentaleb will have former Arsenal midfielder Isaac Hayden for company in the middle of the park. At the back, Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar are likely to partner up with Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles in the three-man central defensive unit.
When without the ball, Newcastle will take the shape of 5-4-1, with the two wing-backs dropping deep, while the two wide men will create a block of four to support Hayden and Bentaleb. These two wide men are poised to be Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin. Finally, Joelinton will spearhead the attack, although the Brazilian is in serious need of some inspiration.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Dubravka; Fernandez, Lascelles, Schar; Lazaro, Hayden, Bentaleb, Rose; Almiron, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin
- Arsenal have dropped nine points from winning positions in home Premier League games this season – only in 2001-02 (14) and 2004-05 (11) have they lost more at home in a single campaign in the competition.
- Newcastle are unbeaten in their last four Premier League games (W1 D3), last having a longer run without defeat in the competition between April-May 2016 (6 games).
- Arsenal have not lost a league match in February at the Emirates. Their last home defeat in this month came in 2006, when West Ham beat the Gunners at Highbury. They have won 20 and drawn five of their 25 such games since.
- Arsenal have attempted 67 shots under Arteta. Only Crystal Palace and Sheffield United have attempted fewer during that period.
- Nabil Bentaleb created four chances for his teammates on his Newcastle league debut – no player has created more in a single match for the Magpies this season.
Player to Watch
It has been a turbulent period for Arsenal despite the visible improvement in the performance levels. Goals have been scored few and far between, with very few players managing to provide a reliable outlet in the final third. If there is one such player who has done so lately, it is Gabriel Martinelli.
In the recent absence of Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Martinelli was the player who posed the greatest threat in front of goal. Alexandre Lacazette is going through a poor run of form while Aubameyang did not exactly appear sharp last time out against Burnley.
Martinelli will, therefore, have to shoulder a lot of the goalscoring burden for Arsenal when Newcastle pay them a visit. Another big ask for a player who is still in the nascent stages of his career, but has already showed some remarkable signs so far.
Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle United
Arsenal have become the draw specialists in the Premier League this season and have remained a goal-shy team under Mikel Arteta. Newcastle United, too, have not carried a huge goal threat either and there is unlikely to be a lot of goalmouth action on offer on Sunday.
However, a near-fortnight long break would have helped Mikel Arteta get some of his ideas through to the players. With that in mind and the players fresher, Arsenal could have the slightest of edges, although the game should be a close-run affair. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Arsenal, a big result in their pursuit of Champions League qualification.