It will have been 9 days and 150 minutes since the last time Newcastle came to The Emirates and the whistle blew for the first half kickoff to be exact, but the challenge on hand will be a little different for Arsenal.
It took 120 minutes of play to find their way past the Magpies in the FA Cup last time out which isn’t an option this time around. With three precious Premier League points up for grabs, Arsenal will have to be technically much better from kick off to use every second they have to break down another difficult low blow.
It may be Arsenal advancing to the 4th round of the FA Cup after an outstanding finish to the match, but Newcastle will certainly have taken confidence from keeping Arsenal off the scoreboard for 90 minutes, and the fact that it was them who probably had the best chance to win it all during regulation. If it wasn’t for an outstanding flurry of goalkeeping from Bernd Leno at the death, Andy Carroll could hav easily tucked away the winner and stolen all the glory.
Arsenal will have gained a lot of confidence from the fact that their play looked infinitely better when they brought on Saka, Smith Rowe, and Lacazette. It was these three that put Arsenal head and shoulders over Newcastle down the stretch, and these three that Arsenal will look to once more.
In addition to these young guns, the potential return of Partey, Tierney, Martinelli, and Gabriel could be an added boost to the overall quality, and certainly make the team a bit more complete than it felt versus Crystal Palace.
Is this combination edging toward Arsenal’s strongest eleven?
Before we go over the lineup I believe Arteta is likely to play, let’s cover team news.
Right ankle. Gabi is now back in full training and is available for selection.
Right calf. Pablo has sustained a mild strain to his calf and will continue to rehabilitate in the coming days.
Right calf. Kieran has recovered from his tight calf and is back in training with the squad. Kieran will be assessed and tested ahead of Monday’s match.
Good to hear Tierney is back healthy and ready after needed a precautionary MRI and that Martinelli is off the injury list quickly after his long absence.
Unfortunate for Mari to come up with a calf strain after he has been so good lately, but Gabriel will be a welcomed sight in the backline again.
Kept the lineup pretty straight forward.
Leno in net. Tierney, Gabriel, Holding, and Bellerin for the backline. If Tierney is healthy, I imagine he will play, especially given Maitland-Niles’ pretty poor performance in that role against Crystal Palace. Arsenal’s left side was vapid and it greatly effected the Gunners’ ability to be dangerous in the final third. Finally, despite Luiz getting the call in the FA Cup and performing just fine, I expect Gabriel to be back in action alongside Holding who has established himself as the go-to right center back.
In the midfield — Xhaka, Partey, and Smith Rowe. After Partey’s minutes went well and he exited the game with no injury, it feels like the next step is to let him start and play 60-70 minutes. I would not be surprised if there is a scripted plan to get him off the field around that mark regardless of the game state. Alongside him I paired Xhaka. I thought both Xhaka and Ceballos had impressive individual matches, even if it led to few chances to score, but Xhaka has been on the better run of form recently and possibly outplayed Ceballos by just a bit. It was also Xhaka that got the nod to stay in against Palace when Partey was brought off the bench. Finally, Emile Smith Rowe will be selected to continue to get chances to play in between the lines and impress.
Up top — Aubameyang, Lacazette, and Saka. Some may consider this the obvious choice, others may be wondering why Aubameyang is still getting chances to play. We may be edging toward a point in which his scoring drought leaves no option for Arteta but to sit him out, I’m not sure we are there yet. I expect this to be the side, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Martinelli as one of the first off the bench as Arteta looks to get him back into matches and involved. Arsenal have struggled to get both Martinelli and Aubameyang involved in the same eleven with great effect, but that may be a challenge Arteta has to find a way to rise above. Until Gabi reaches full match fitness or Auba’s form makes him nearly unplayable, I expect to continue to see Aubameyang be selected.
To put it simply, I expect Arsenal to win. I know they struggled to score until extra time in the FA Cup, and I can imagine that Newcastle will have learned a bit from the first match, but Steve Bruce’s side is struggling, and even with the Magpies playing a low block, I expect Arsenal to take care of business and keep their run alive.
I don’t think it will be easy — playing against low blocks isn’t for Arsenal — but I do expect it to go better than things went against Crystal Palace. That opinion may change if Arteta isn’t able to select Tierney for the side and we see the left side struggle, but I think Arsenal will get it done.
Prediction: 2-0 Arsenal