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Arsenal - Newcastle United preview and match thread: back in action

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The Gunners control their top 4 fate.

Arsenal v Stade Rennais - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: Second Leg
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is back among the goals.
Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Eight games left and Arsenal are well and truly in the thick of it. The Gunners sit fifth in the table and control their top four fate. If they win out, they qualify for the Champions League. A win today over Newcastle United at the Emirates would take Arsenal above both Manchester United and Tottenham into third. The Magpies sit 14th in the table but are 7 points clear of the drop.

Fresh off an international break training trip to the United Arab Emirates, Unai Emery’s men should be up to handling Newcastle at home. Arsenal have won 13 of 16 home Premier League matches this season, including their last ten straight. Newcastle, on the other hand, have struggled to win away from home (although they have managed 7 road draws). That said, they’ve picked up 11 points from their last 6 matches and look to have turned a nail-biting relegation battle into a comfortable close to their season. Expect Newcastle to sit back, absorb pressure, and look to hit on the break - shocking tactics from a Rafa Benitez-coached team, I know.

Key to Newcastle’s resurgence has been the arrival of club-record signing Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United. The Paraguayan attacking midfielder has yet to score in the Premier League, but Rafa Benitez has hailed his partnership with Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez and credits Almiron’s pace for opening up space for his teammates.

Arsenal have also found their attacking form at the right time. Not surprisingly, the Gunners’ offensive improvement has coincided with Unai Emery’s relatively recent decision to play Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the same time. Funny how that works - you put your best attacking players on the pitch together and suddenly, you create more chances and score more goals.

The Gunners will be without the services of Lucas Torreira, who is serving the second of a three-match ban for his red card against Spurs. Granit Xhaka is questionable for today’s match with a thigh [***update: groin***] injury picked up on international duty [insert obligatory international break-hate comment here]. For Newcastle, Fabian Schar misses out due to suspension for accumulating 10 yellow cards.

The club has dedicated today’s match to its Arsenal for Everyone campaign. Arsenal in the community participants will be guests of honor at the match, members of the Gay Gooners club and the Premier League’s Kick It Out campaign against racism will be in the Directors Box, and the club will play videos highlighting the work of both organizations and the team’s community service efforts.

Arsenal - Leno, Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Iwobi, Ozil, Lacazette

Laurent Koscielny misses out with a bruised foot. Granit Xhaka’s groin injury keeps him out as well. Unofficial word is that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is not starting because he is sick.

Newcastle - Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Diame, Almiron, Perez, Rondon

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Newcastle United

WHERE: The Emirates

WHEN: April 1st, 2019 12:00 PM BT | 3:00 PM ET | 8:00 PM BT

US TV: NBCSN. Stream here.

For all your international streaming needs, check out livesoccer.tv. As always, please do not discuss links to illegal streams here.