[Update: Arsenal released their official team news Sunday afternoon stating that Gabriel Martinelli is available for selection and that Kieran Tierney has recovered from his calf issue they will determine Monday if he is an option for Mikel Arteta.]
Still awake? Good. The Crystal Palace match was a tough one to sit through and probably had a few fans feeling nervous that the club was slipping back into the pattern we’ve seen much of this season. But Roy Hodgson set that team up to defend. And while the Gunners didn’t manage to find the back of the net, that’s four clean sheets in a row. Up next is another match against Newcastle, but this time around the flow of the match should feel much different than the FA Cup tie which saw heavy rotation on both sides.
As Arteta noted in his press conference, Pablo Mari will likely be out for a few matches. The extent of Kieran Tierney’s injury is unknown at this time, but we can expect him to at least miss Monday’s game. Later today or on Monday we should get an official update on him and if Martinelli will be available, but for now we will proceed under the assumption that those three are ruled out for the Newcastle match.
With the defense holding strong recently and knowing how the B squad did in their chance in the FA Cup, expected a fairly similar lineup as we saw against Crystal Palace. Newcastle is winless in their last eight, giving up 14 goals during that run and only managing to score four themselves. The Gunners need to come out fast, pushing the attack and looking to find the net early rather than allow a struggling Newcastle to settle in looking for a stalemate.
- Eddie Nketiah
- Nicolas Pepe
- Reiss Nelson
- Mohamed Elneny
- Thomas Partey
- Joe Willock
- Cedric Soares
- David Luiz
- Alex Runarsson
- Left Out: Calum Chambers, Willian, & Shkodran Mustafi
- Out: Pablo Mari (calf issue), Kieran Tierney (leg issue), & Gabriel Martinelli (ankle/foot injury)
- Up top the same four return. They remain our best chance to create and score at the moment. Even if Martinelli is available for selection, he would probably be on the bench in place of Reiss Nelson and not a starting option just yet. Nketiah, Pepe and Willian all failed to get into a rhythm against Newcastle, so Arteta will stick with this attacking combo that has seen the Gunners lift up the table recently.
- Similar thoughts continue for the midfield. Xhaka and Ceballos have worked well, while Elneny and Willock were unable to create enough chances against Newcastle to warrant taking over a starting role. Thomas Partey has returned and might have been an option to start here, but Arteta needs to avoid the same trap as before. Partey was brought back quickly against Spurs and sidelined once again. He should be brought back up to full fitness slowly. A second half appearance for 30-or-so minutes of action would be ideal Monday.
- The backline held once again. Leno, Bellerin & Holding all seem to be getting into a nice rhythm on the right side, but injuries continue to force changes on the left. I know everyone misses Tierney and Maitland-Niles’ attack ability isn’t the same as Kieran’s, but AMN time after time is asked to fill in for an injury and delivers. Right-back, Center Midfield, and now Left-back. Ideally, Arsenal sign a new left-back with the same playing style as Tierney as the backup this summer, but for now Ainsley continues to quietly do what Mikel Arteta needs from him.
- With Mari out a few games, going up against Newcastle is a great chance to bring Gabriel back in to pair with Holding and move David Luiz to the bench. Gabriel had a great run at the start of the season and was one of the bright spots in what was a difficult first half of the season. Getting him back up to full fitness and that level of form will be critical if Arsenal want to make a run towards the European places.
How to watch
Monday (1/18) at 3:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm PT on NBCSN.