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Arsenal vs. Newcastle FA Cup 3rd Round match thread: the holders

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The Gunners begin their title defense.

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

Arsenal open their FA Cup defense against Newcastle at the Emirates today. Holders. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Should the Gunners manage to win the trophy again, it would be their 15th all-time, extending their record for most FA Cup wins.

Their first obstacle is Newcastle United, who come to the Emirates desperate to find their form. The Magpies have tumbled down the Premier League table to 15th, scoring just a single goal in their last four matches. Arsenal, on the other hand, have won three straight and maybe, just maybe, have found their attacking groove after literal months of futility going forward.

Newcastle’s recent run of form is undoubtedly related to the COVID-19 outbreak at the club in early December and forced the postponement of their match against Aston Villa. Boss Steve Bruce made headlines earlier this week, declaring it “morally wrong” to continue playing this season amid the surge in coronavirus positives in the EFL pyramid and around the country in general. Good for him for speaking up. As I wrote earlier this week, whether or not the Premier League does continue, we don’t even seem to be having the correct conversations about whether it should.

Newcastle will be without winger Ryan Fraser and midfielder Jeff Hendrick (EDIT: it would seem the injury reports were incorrect and Hendrick is not only available, but starting). Jamal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin have both returned to training after long bouts with COVID-19 from that outbreak at the start of last month, but it’s not clear whether they are fit enough to play.

It looks like, at least for now, Arsenal have nobody in the training room. Both Thomas Partey (thigh) and Gabriel Magalhaes (COVID-19) were pictured training with their teammates. I do not expect Partey to play the full match, but I think he’ll get a runout. If Gabriel Magalhaes is fit to play the full match, I would expect him to, if only to get him back into form.

Arsenal - Leno, Cedric, David Luiz, Mari, Tierney, Elneny, Willock, pepe, Willian, Martinelli, Aubameyang

Newcastle - Dubravka, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hayden, Longstaff, Hendrick, Almiron, Joelinton, Carroll

WHAT: Arsenal vs. Newcastle, FA Cup 3rd Round
WHERE: The Emirates
WHEN: Saturday, January 9th 9:30 AM PT | 12:30 PM ET | 5:30 PM BT
US TV: Streaming on ESPN+ ($$$).

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