Let’s run it back. A little more than a week ago, Arsenal downed Newcastle at the Emirates in the FA Cup. Today, the Magpies return to North London in the Premier League. Steve Bruce’s side is teetering on the edge of trouble. They haven’t won in eight matches in all competitions, have only scored 4 goals over that span, and just handed Sheffield United their first win of the season with a poor performance that saw winger Ryan Fraser sent off just before halftime.
The Gunners were running smoothly until a bit of a hiccup that came in the form of a 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace. There were a few takeaways from that match, the most obvious being that Arsenal need Kieran Tierney’s chance creation from the left to balance the attack. Another takeaway is something I think we’ve known for a while — this Arsenal squad, while talented, is incredibly inconsistent. When they get going, they purr like an Aston Martin. But they can also have days where they splutter like a 30-year old Dacia.
Tierney has recovered from the calf-tightness that forced Arsenal to hold him out last week, and he will be evaluated ahead of today’s match. Gabriel Martinelli is recovered from turning his ankle in warmups for the FA Cup match against Newcastle and is available for selection. Pablo Mari has a mild calf strain and will miss out.
I’d expect Thomas Partey to start for the Gunners, but I don’t think he’ll play the full match. Mikel Arteta might also opt to give him another 30 minute, substitute appearance — it’s all down to his fitness, which we won’t know anything about until we see what happens. I’d wager that Gabriel Martinelli slides right back into the starting lineup. Check out what Nathan thinks the starting XI will be.
Newcastle will be without the previously mentioned Ryan Fraser, who is suspended for his red card against Sheffield United. Dynamic winger Allan Saint-Maximin has returned to training but is still recovering his fitness after a particularly nasty case of COVID-19. Jamal Lewis, Federico Fenandez, Jonjo Shelvey, and Jamaal Lascelles all face fitness tests to determine their availability.
These are three points Arsenal need to claim. Regardless of what places the Gunners end up challenging for, you need to beat bottom half teams at your home ground, full stop. The Emirates has very much not been the fortress it was in Arsene Wenger’s time in charge; you used to be able to count on Arsenal winning at home. You can’t anymore. That needs to change.
Arsenal - Leno, Cedric, David Luiz, Holding, Tierney, Partey, Xhaka, Saka, Smith Rowe, Aubameyang, Lacazette
Newcastle - Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Shelvey, Longstaff, Almiron, Joelinton, Carroll, Wilson
TEAM-NEWS— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 18, 2021
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