The Gunners are in the midst of a troubling dip in form. Sure, you can chalk up the 3-1 loss to Manchester United to bad luck and phenomenal play from David De Gea. More difficult to explain away are the draws at Southampton and West Ham. Those are fixtures that a club with top four aspirations should win.
The good news for Arsenal is that their main competition for top four places have also struggled recently, so despite the poor results, the Gunners are only a point out of fourth place and four points off third.
And so the attention shifts to tomorrow’s match with 16th place Newcastle. The Magpies are in freefall - they’ve collected only one of the last twenty-four points on offer. Hopefully a home fixture against a struggling side will help right the good ship Arsenal - the Gunners had won 14 straight at the Emirates before the loss to United.
There are no two ways about it, this is an absolute, 100%, undeniable must-win game for the Gunners.
Aaron Ramsey remains out with the hamstring injury he suffered against Southampton, so Arsene Wenger will once again have to tinker with the midfield. Odds are Jack Wilshere will get the nod alongside Granit Xhaka, although Mohamed Elneny or Francis Coquelin could start given the short turnaround and Wilshere’s injury history.
Shkodran Mustafi has returned to training but faces a fitness test to determine his availability. His fitness will likely dictate Arsenal’s formation. If the German can play, expect a back three; if he is unavailable, a back four.
Newcastle will be without striker Aleksander Mitrović and midfielder Jonjo Shelvey. The former is out with a back injury, the latter due to a red card suspension (what a surprise). Former Arsenal man Isaac Hayden is expected to fill in for Shelvey, and Welsh international Paul Dummett should be returning from injury for the Magpies.
Arsenal will dedicate tomorrow’s match to the Arsenal Foundation. Each year since moving to the Emirates, around Christmas, Arsene Wenger and the players have donated a day’s wages to charity. The Arsenal Foundation works with a number of different charities including Save the Children, Bob Wilson’s Willow Foundation, and Centrepoint to help those less fortunate. We encourage you to take a minute to check out those charities and learn more about the work the Arsenal Foundation does.
WHAT: Arsenal vs. Newcastle
WHERE: Emirates Stadium, London
WHEN: Saturday, December 15th 7 AM PT | 10 AM ET | 3 PM BT
US TV: CNBC. Stream here.
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