Newcastle host Arsenal at St. James’ Park on Sunday in the English Premier League. The Magpies can take a big step towards qualifying for the UEFA Champions League by winning here. Arsenal could kick this one off with a four-point gap to Man City. This may be the fixture where the Gunners’ title race comes to a premature end.
After a run of one win in eight in the league, Newcastle dropped out of the top four. They’ve since had a superb run with 24 points from nine fixtures (eight wins, one draw). They’ve only lost one home match this season and still have the division’s fewest goals conceded. They went to West Ham and won 5-1 before an off-day saw a 3-0 loss at Aston Villa.
They’ve bounced back in superb fashion. A 6-1 home win against Tottenham saw them 5-0 up after just 21 minutes. They then went to Everton and won 4-1 with three goals in the final 20 minutes. Last weekend, they trailed 1-0 at home to Southampton but they netted three goals in the second half to take the three points.
Newcastle Team News
Left winger Allan Saint-Maximin is back in training after an injury and could be involved, albeit from the bench. Sean Longstaff is doubtful in midfield with a knock and he may not be risked from the start. Jamaal Lascelles has suffered a calf injury and his season is over.
Eddie Howe has plenty of in-form options in attack. He will have to choose between Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak to lead the line as they almost never start together. Miguel Almiron could remain on the bench with Jacob Murphy doing so well of late.
A win here would be a big step towards sealing a top-four finish. They will play with intensity and emotion in front of their own fans and go all out to win.
As with their home results against Man Utd and Tottenham recently, a fast start is expected and they will drop off and defend deep at any point. They’ve come a long way since time-wasting to draw 0-0 at the Emirates a week months back.
The Gunners had a seven-match winning run and looked odds-on to win the title. They were scoring goals for fun (23 netted) and had some fantastic performances, especially in the first half of matches. Unfortunately, dropping nine points in their next four matches made their title hopes quite remote. A 2-2 draw at Liverpool saw a 2-0 lead thrown away and eight ‘big chances’ conceded.
A 2-0 lead away at West Ham ended 2-2 in another collapse. Arsenal then trailed 3-1 at home to Southampton before two late goals to rescue a point. Then, a 4-1 thrashing to Man City saw the league no longer be in the Gunners’ hands. They had a nice palate cleanser in midweek as they cruised past hapless Chelsea 3-1 at home.
Arsenal Team News
Mikel Arteta may not be able to call upon William Saliba again this season as his back problem persists. Jakub Kiwior is set to partner Gabriel as Rob Holding has been struggling in recent weeks. Takehiro Tomiyasu won’t play again this season.
Arsenal made some changes in midweek as Gabriel Martinelli and Thomas Partey lost their places to Leandro Trossard and Jorginho respectively. Arteta may recall both players to the XI for this match for their extra athleticism.
Arsenal start the weekend one point behind Man City but that could increase to four points by kickoff here. This is a must-win fixture or their title hopes may peter out limply.
Arteta’s side will try to control the game and take the string out of the home crowd in the first 20 minutes.
Newcastle have lost just once in 17 home EPL matches (W11, D5)
Newcastle have won 8 of their last 9 league matches
NUFC have scored 2+ goals in 8 of their last 9 EPL fixtures
Arsenal have 1 win in their last 5 league matches, conceding 12 goals
Arsenal have the most away points in the league (36 points from 17 matches)
Arsenal have scored a league-high 33 goals on their travels
This match will surely see goals. Newcastle are scoring freely and face a weakened Gunners defence. Arsenal score plenty of goals in away matches too and have to open up and chase a win. I can see there being plenty of goals in this one.