Arsenal’s wiggle room is gone. The Gunners travel to Newcastle with a simple mission: win today, win against Everton next weekend, and qualify for the Champions League. There are other scenarios in which the club still make the CL, but all of those rely on Spurs dropping points against Norwich on the final day. Right now, Arsenal still control their own fate: two wins does the trick.
Newcastle are a tricky opponent. They’ve been playing significantly better under Eddie Howe. They’ve got skill and pace on the wings with Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin, good finishing with Chris Wood, and a strong midfield trio in Bruno Guimares, Sean Longstaff and Joelinton.
Arsenal are banged up coming into today’s match, at centerback most of all. Rob Holding is suspended after picking up two first half yellow cards against Spurs. Ben White is working back from a hamstring problem, was only fit enough to make the bench at the weekend, and wasn’t brought on even when Holding got sent off. Gabriel Magalhaes asked to come off against Spurs with what appeared to be a hamstring problem. The feeling is that White should be fit enough to start and that Gabriel will not be. For what it’s worth, Gabriel traveled with the team. Thomas Partey and Kieran Tierney are both out.
Ryan Fraser is doubtful for Newcastle. Isaac Hayden, Jonjo Shelvey, Joe Willock, Federico Fernandez, and Jamal Lewis are all out.
There’s not much more to be said. Arsenal are bruised and battered. I’m sure the loss at Spurs took a bit of the wind out of the sails. I know (hope) Mikel Arteta will have a good tactical setup and gameplan for today’s match. But at the risk of sounding like one of the neanderthal pundits I often malign, there’s also a good portion of today that’s down to intangibles. The Gunners need to step up. The spotlight is on, the pressure is turned up, and it’s down to the players to live up to the moment. Will the veterans put in savvy, intelligent shifts like they should? Will the young stars shine brightly? These are the kind of matches where you show what you’re made of.
Arsenal - Ramsdale, Tomiyasu, White, Gabriel, Tavares, Xhaka, Elneny, Saka, Ødegaard, Smith Rowe, Nketiah
Newcastle - Dubravka, Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett, Guimaraes, Longstaff, Joelinton, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Wilson
WHAT: Arsenal at Newcastle
WHERE: St. James’ Park
WHEN: Monday, May 16th 12 pm PT | 3 pm ET | 8 pm BT
US TV: USA and UNIVERSO. Streaming on fuboTV.
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