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Arsenal vs. Newcastle United preview: back on the grind

The Gunners return to action.

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Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Winter break behind them, Arsenal are back in action on Sunday as they welcome Newcastle United to the Emirates. Like the game with Burnley to open the month, it’s another “can you believe the Gunners are level on points with them” matchup. The Magpies trail the Gunners in the table on goal difference alone.

Arsenal bested Newcastle 1-0 on opening day way back in August. The Gunners have taken 13 of the last 14 Premier League matches from the Magpies, including seven straight at the Emirates. Both sides are in decent league form but can’t seem to find wins: Arsenal are 1-4-0, Newcastle are 1-3-1. For what it’s worth (probably not much), the Gunners haven’t lost at home in the league in February since Highbury.

From the images shared on social media, it looks as if the Gunners had fun during their winter break trip to Dubai. Mikel Arteta called it a “mini-preseason.” Since naming him manager at the start of the festive period, the Gunners haven’t had more than five days between matches, with most coming in even quicker succession. Hopefully the extended time off gave him a chance to fully install his systems and tactics, particularly the attacking ones. Arsenal’s defense has improved dramatically in Arteta’s short time with the club. The attack is lagging behind.

Good news on the injury front for Arsenal — Bukayo Saka (knee), Sead Kolasinac (thigh), and Reiss Nelson (hamstring) are all available. Pablo Marí (fitness) isn’t quite ready to make his Arsenal debut. Cédric Soares (knee) is expected to be available in early March. Kieran Tierney (shoulder) is progressing. For the first time, I’m seeing a March 7th date pegged for his return. Calum Chambers (knee) is out for the season.

Newcastle have been hit hard by injuries, especially to attackers, but they are starting to get players back. Joelinton is available and Yoshinori Muto could make the bench after missing more than a month. Dynamic attacker Allan Saint-Maximin, who had missed time with a hamstring injury, came on as a substitute two weeks ago and is likely to start. Dwight Gayle is doubtful. Jonjo Shelvey, Javier Manquillo, Andy Carroll, Emil Krafth, Paul Dummett, Jetro Willems, and Jack Colback are all out.

It’s the business end of the season, and Arsenal have a chance to salvage things. Time to start winning some games.

WHO: Arsenal vs. Newcastle United
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Sunday, February 16th 8:30 AM PT | 11:30 AM ET | 5:30 PM BST
US TV: NBCSN and Telemundo. Stream here.

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