There are plenty of good noises coming out of the Gunners since Mikel Arteta’s appointment but 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, on the other hand, are only six points adrift of the Premier League’s top six, there cannot be any complacency with the North-East outfit still just seven points above the relegation zone. 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.
Here are the three things to look forward to as Arsenal host Newcastle at the Emirates Stadium.
3. Injuries galore for both managers
Arsenal have had the winter break to work on their injuries issues and Mikel Arteta could have Sead Kolasinac (thigh), Bukayo Saka (knee), and Reiss Nelson (thigh) back in contention to feature against Newcastle. While Pablo Mari (match fitness), Cedric Soares (knee), and Kieran Tierney (shoulder) could be out at least until the end of the month.
Steve Bruce, too, 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. Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Javier Manquillo (thigh), Andy Carroll (groin) and Emil Krafth (ankle) could all return in the next few weeks.
Yoshinori Muto and Dwight Gayle are facing a race against time to make themselves available for the trip to take on Arsenal.
2. Can Newcastle finally pick up an away win?
Newcastle don’t have the greatest away record, winning just three of their 12 matches away from St. James’ Park. That said, the Magpies have managed to come away with points from visits to Everton, Wolves, Sheffield United, and Spurs this season. Only Aston Villa have shipped more goals on the road than Newcastle’s 24.
The Magpies have amassed as many points as Arsenal (31) and appear to be safe from the clutches of relegation for now. Steve Bruce will feel that three more wins should achieve their minimum target for the campaign, but with a favourable schedule to come, that is still a possibility for this season, although Bruce may need some luck with injuries for that objective to feel realistic.
1. Arsenal have everything to fight for
Arsenal have struggled mightily this year, but they have made terrific strides under new head coach Mikel Arteta and can still take advantage of the equally poor form of their rivals. The Gunners may sit in 11th position after Burnley’s win earlier on Saturday, but they are only eight points behind fifth-placed Sheffield United and have a game-in-hand.
Additionally, with Manchester City‘s Champions League ban, the fifth-placed team in the Premier League can now qualify for the competition next season which means multiple teams outside the top four still have a lot to fight for this season. Newcastle will keep this match tight during the opening hour, but Arsenal’s class will eventually come through in the latter stages to record a win which will get them back in the hunt for the European places.