Arsenal will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they travel north to take on Newcastle United at St. James’ Park in the Premier League this weekend.
Arsenal will be aiming to bring an end to their three-game winless streak across all competitions when they face off against Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday afternoon in Matchweek 34 of the 2020/21 Premier League.
Following a 1-1 draw against Fulham and a 1-0 loss to Everton, Arsenal are currently 10th in the league table and look certain to miss the boat for European football. Their only hope at this moment would be winning the UEFA Europa League but they in a precarious position there as well, having lost 2-1 to Villarreal in the first-leg of their semifinal tie earlier this week.
The results, coupled with some dodgy selection calls, have left Mikel Arteta under intense pressure and the Arsenal manager will need a win on Sunday to earn some breathing space. However, things will not be easy against a resurgent Newcastle United side that is unbeaten in the last four games, a run that includes a win over West Ham United and draws against Tottenham and Liverpool.
The Magpies, thanks to their recent run of results, have been able to put some daylight between themselves and 18th-placed Fulham, establishing a nine-point lead over the drop zone. Another positive outcome against the north Londoners this weekend would take Steve Bruce’s side another step closer towards safety.
Arsenal and Newcastle have met twice already this term, once in the FA Cup and the league each, with the Gunners winning both the games 2-0 and 3-0, respectively. Ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday at St. James’ Park, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.
Team News & Tactics
🎙 Steve Bruce previews #NEWARS:
"We've got a slight doubt about Matt Ritchie. He's got a bit of a calf injury but we think he's going to be OK [for Sunday]. Apart from that – everybody else has come through Liverpool alright." pic.twitter.com/BnDMkVReYJ
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 30, 2021
Newcastle United have quite a few injury problems to contend with ahead of the visit of Arsenal. Captain Jamaal Lascelles and former Gunners’ star Isaac Hayden are both ruled out of the contest while Ryan Fraser and Karl Darlow also miss out after undergoing surgeries. Matt Ritchie picked up a calf injury in the draw against Liverpool last time out but is expected to make it to the squad.
Joe Willock, who is on loan from Arsenal and is wanted on a permanent deal by Newcastle, is ineligible to feature against his parent club. In some positive news, Fabian Schar is ready to return after having come through unscathed in a reserve game earlier in the week. Newcastle ought to continue in the 5-3-2 setup that they fielded in the 1-1 draw against Anfield with Martin Dubravka manning the goal.
Even though Schar’s back, the centre-back trio of Federico Fernandez, Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett is unlikely to be tinkered with by Bruce while Jacob Murphy and Ritchie slot in as the full-backs, who will keep their discipline off the ball and look to break with pace when the Magpies are in possession.
Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff will provide the added security from the middle of the park while Miguel Almiron will have a free role wherein he will look to drift across the attacking half to try and make things happen. Allan Saint-Maximin will be the hosts’ biggest threat with his blistering pace and ability on the ball. He ought to line up as one of the two forwards, with Callum Wilson set to replace Joelinton as his partner.
Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Dubravka; Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie; Almiron, Shelvey, Longstaff; Wilson, Saint-Maximin
Arsenal, meanwhile, are set to welcome Kieran Tierney back into the fold, with the Scotsman returning to full training, while David Luiz is also fully fit and available. However, Alexandre Lacazette hasn’t recovered from a hamstring injury and is set to miss out. Captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made his return after a spell on the sidelines in the game against Villarreal and could be set for more minutes on Sunday.
Mikel Arteta will certainly have an eye on the Europa League semi-final second leg contest against Villarreal while selecting the team. There will be changes made to the team that took the field on Thursday night, although first-choice goalkeeper Bernd Leno is expected to continue between the sticks against Newcastle.
🗞 Every word from Mikel Arteta, plus a team news update, ahead of #NEWARS on Sunday 👇
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) April 30, 2021
The defence will see some alterations with Hector Bellerin, Luiz and Gabriel Magalhaes all coming in for Calum Chambers, Rob Holding and Pablo Mari respectively. Even though Tierney has returned, Cedric Soares is likely to get the nod at left-back with the Scottish international likely to get some minutes in the second half.
Dani Ceballos will be ineligible to feature against Villarreal after his sending off but given how poor he was, it is unlikely that he will feature against Newcastle. Instead, it should be the duo of Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka, who moves back into midfield after starting at left-back, that form the double pivot at St. James’ Park.
Martin Odegaard should continue as the No. 10 but there are likely to be changes elsewhere in the final third with Willian set to get a run-out in place of Bukayo Saka while Gabriel Martinelli comes in on the left ahead of Nicolas Pepe. Aubameyang should start as the centre-forward for the Gunners.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, Luiz, Magalhaes, Cedric; Partey, Xhaka; Willian, Odegaard, Martinelli; Aubameyang
- Over 2.5 Match Goals @ 1.90
- Newcastle to win @ 3.60
- Arsenal are unbeaten in their last four Premier League away games (W2 D2), scoring three goals in each of their last two (3-3 v West Ham, 3-0 v Sheffield United). The Gunners haven’t scored at least three times in three consecutive away league games since October 2015.
- Newcastle have lost 15 of their last 16 league games against Arsenal, winning the other 2-1 in April 2018.
- Arsenal have won their last six meetings with Newcastle in all competitions, keeping a clean sheet in their last five. Only against Barnsley (between 1952-1998) and Blackburn (between 2003-2005) have they won six consecutive matches without conceding.
- Newcastle have lost just one of their last eight Premier League games (W2 D5), having lost eight of their 10 league matches prior to this run (W2).
- Newcastle’s Callum Wilson scored in each of his first three Premier League appearances against Arsenal, but has since failed to find the net in his five meetings with the Gunners in all competitions.
Player to Watch
It has been a forgettable campaign so far for Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose form has nosedived since he signed a new, bumper contract last summer. Indeed, the 31-year-old has managed just nine Premier League goals from 25 games this season and has a overall tally of 14 from 34 matches, scoring at a rate of one every 187 minutes, which is extremely poor for a player of his standards.
But the final run-in offers him a shot at salvaging something. A strong finish to the season, helping Arsenal to a top-half finish in the league and the Europa League trophy would be the perfect way for Aubameyang to redeem himself after what has been a disappointing 2020/21 term. And, it will all start with a strong game against Newcastle United this weekend.
It bodes well for Arsenal that Aubameyang enjoys a fine record against the Magpies, having scored in his last four appearances against Newcastle in all competitions. A huge game beckons the Arsenal skipper.
Newcastle United 2-2 Arsenal
Newcastle United have been in good nick of late, having lost just one of their last eight games. And with Arsenal going through bit a lean patch – one win in five league games – the Magpies will back themselves to to take some points off them on Sunday afternoon. More so given the form that Allan Saint-Maximin has been in while Callum Wilson’s return will add more venom to their attack.
However, the Gunners have seen off the Magpies on two occasions this term, with Aubameyang scoring in each of those to encounters. And his return to the side should help them just about avoid another defeat this weekend. The Hard Tackle is predicting this one to end in a scored draw, although one wouldn’t be surprised if the hosts picked up an upset win.