Arsenal will aim to return to winning ways when they host newly acquired Newcastle United at the Emirates on Saturday afternoon.
The Gunners were unbeaten in 10 games ahead of the visit to Anfield last weekend but Mikel Arteta will be hoping they put the set-back behind them and get back on track against Newcastle.
Finishing in the top four will be a massive step for Arsenal who failed to qualify for any kind of European football last season while Newcastle are looking to start a new chapter under new ownership who have big ambitions of making them Premier League winners soon.
To win the Premier League Newcastle will have to first survive relegation and picking up their first three points of the season will go a long way in helping them achieve their long term goal.
The appointment of Eddie Howe has also lifted everyone associated with Newcastle but will that be enough to get them all three points? we spoke to NewcastleWorld’s football reporter, Jordan Cronin, to find out.
How do you think Newcastle will approach this game?
Despite their position in the Premier League table, I think Newcastle will head to the capital with no fear. Look, Newcastle’s record at the Emirates is brutal (last win in 2010). Usually this is the type of game they’d ‘write off’ but there is renewed optimism after Howe’s arrival. Howe vowed to play more on the frontfoot, and that’s exactly what we saw against Brentford. I expect Newcastle to try and take the game to Arsenal and try exploit their weaknesses at the back. That said, they need to get the balance between attack and defence right because vice-versa. Continued defensive errors cost Newcastle three points last weekend, so that is also something that needs to be put right.
What do you think the response to Eddie Howe has been and do you think Arsenal is the perfect game to get the first win?
Newcastle players, staff and fans have welcomed Howe with open arms. Under Steve Bruce, it was all doom and gloom - players regressed significantly, fans wanted him sacked for months - but Howe has restored a bit of excitement on Tyneside in little under two weeks. The training sessions have been of the highest standard, which sparked a clear improvement against Brentford. Defensively, there is still a lot to work on but in attack, Newcastle looked far more potent. It’s fine to look at the positives for now but Newcastle need results and winning at the Emirates would be the perfect way to kickstart their Premier League survival bid.
Who are the players who are beginning to show up more since Howe took over?
Joelinton looked like a man transformed last week, which is kudos to Howe & Co. The club’s £40m record signing has struggled massively since his move from Hoffenheim in 2019 but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. Jonjo Shelvey is another. Shelvey, like Joelinton, has his critics at Newcastle but both have been singled out by Howe as highly important players. That speaks volumes.
Do you think he can get the best out of this crop of players?
Yes, I do but it’s an extremely difficult task due to the threat of relegation. He got his formation near spot on last week - Saint-Maximin looked on top form again, Joelinton and Shelvey, as already mentioned, impressed. Encouragingly, Howe still has the likes of Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron at his disposal. The only concern were the two full-backs - Matt Ritchie and Jacob Murphy tend to struggle defensively. It’s early days in Howe’s reign but it feels as though everyone is pushing in the same direction.
How do you expect Newcastle to line up and any injury news or fitness updates?
I expect Martin Dubravka to return in goal for Newcastle after Karl Darlow’s howler. Fraser, after his assist last weekend, could push for a start. United finished with a 4-3-2-1 formation, and I suspect they might start with it.
XI (4-2-3-1): Dubravka; Murphy, Schar, Lascelles, Ritchie; Shelvey, Willock; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton, Fraser; Wilson.
Paul Dummett is the only injury concern.