After a two week break, the Premier League is back and this time around, Arsenal face a tough test against Newcastle at St James’ Park. The Gunners travel up to the North East on Saturday for a typical 3:00 kick off and are in search to build on their previous outing, a narrow 3-2 victory against Cardiff City.
With Unai Emery’s men now in 9th position, they hope to avoid a result similar to the corresponding fixture last season. But despite their poor start, Newcastle could pose much more of a threat than many believe. Having played, and somewhat impressed, against Chelsea and Manchester City, the Geordies showed that they were comfortable with frustrating their opponents in defence while also scoring, and although they lost both games, they gave the two teams plenty to think of.
Manager, Rafa Benitez, will no doubt have his team set out in a way to tactically get around the Gunners. With focus surely on pressuring Granit Xhaka, should he play, into making rushed passes or such. Or they could even aim to attack the flanks, where support from the Arsenal wingers is very rare. With this, the right-sided partneship of DeAndre Yedlin and Kenedy will be looking to exploit space out-wide before providing service for either of Joselu or Rondon, as they did against Manchester City.
However, despite their own threat, Newcastle will also have to be wary of Arsenal’s attack. After scoring last time out against Cardiff, both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette showed signs of a deadly partnership. The little flick by Lacazette in the build up to Arsenal’s second, scored by Auba, was proof of this and the Geordies defence will have watch out for the connections between the two which often open up space for either them, or the third man runs of Aaron Ramsey.
Arsenal will also look upon the creativity of Mesut Özil to break down the well structured Newcastle side. Being in poor form, and having astonishingly never travelled to The St James’ in his time in London, Özil will surely be out to make a statement to the footballing world. Should he play the way Arsenal fans know he can, it could be a positive afternoon, especially with Lacazette and Aubameyang showing how clinical they can be given the right opportunities.
Newcastle 1 – 1 Arsenal
Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; Murphy, Ki Sung-Yeung, Diame, Atsu; Rondon.
Arsenal: Leno; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Torreira, Xhaka, Ramsey; Özil, Aubameyang, Lacazette.