Relegation or European battle: Arsenal and Newcastle’s seasons could end in either fashion


Steve Clare previews Arsenal’s clash with Newcastle as the fate of both teams’ Premier League season hangs in the balance.

Backdrop: If this game came to weeks later, it may have been wholly meaningless. However, Arsenal can still reach a Champions League place with a late run, trailing Chelsea by ten points. Furthermore, they are just seven ahead of West Ham who occupy the top place in the relegation zone.

Astonishingly Newcastle are in the exact same position, having 31 points from 25 games, the same record as the Gunners.

So this game could really plummet one side into the dreaded drop dogfight, and breathe fresh hope into the hopes of the winners. Arsenal are still in the FA Cup and Europa League which further complicates both their fixture list and their fans’ hopes and dreams.

Form: Arsenal haven’t lost yet in 2020 and are on their most consistent roll of the season, looking for their eighth successive game without defeat. That run includes victories over Bournemouth and Manchester United and an away draw at Chelsea.

Newcastle lost on New Years Day to Leicester but are also unbeaten since. It’s not as good as it sounds though. Those eight games include draws with lower division Rochdale and Oxford United in the FA Cup, and wins in subsequent replays. The three league games include three draws and a solitary win, albeit over inconsistent Chelsea.

History: Arsenal have won 13 of the last 14 PL matches, with the Geordies’ sole reverse being a 2-1 win on Tyneside in April 2018. Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie scored in a come-from-behind win after Alexandre Lacazette had put the Gunners ahead. On that day, despite winning Newcastle had just 28% of the possession.

You have to go back to 2010 for their last win at Arsenal, that being a 1-0 win in November 2010, Andy Carroll being the sole scorer.

Player to watch: We have already seen fleeting glimpses of the raw talent of Newcastle’s Allan Saint-Maximin. He is surely only one match away from an explosive performance against a top side.

Team news: Neither side has any suspensions.

Sead Kolasinac (thigh), Reiss Nelson (hamstring) and Bukayo Saka (knock) are all now available for Arsenal.

Cedric Soares and Calum Chambers (both knee) along with Keiran Tierney (shoulder) remain sidelined.

Referee: Lee Mason.
Assistants: Ian Hussin, Harry Lennard.
Fourth official: Andy Madley.
VAR: Kevin Friend. Assistant VAR: Stephen Child.

Also See:

Premier League Match Preview

Arsenal FC match preview video


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