Arsenal (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

 Following last weekend’s win at Leicester and our recent rise to form at St James’ Park, we’ll be coming into this one full of confidence against a very beatable Arsenal side.
We’re up to 10th and 10 points clear of the relegation places, so we can actually enjoy this one and look for another big result to keep us moving forward in the table (opposed to over our shoulders as we have done almost all season).
I’m expecting a positive atmosphere and a slightly more relaxed feel around the stadium, but I’m also hoping that this doesn’t lead to a complacent performance.
Plenty of our players (and fans) will naturally feels as though we’re safe now, but Benitez will only admit to it once we reach that 40 point mark, so he’ll be demanding us to put in another big effort full of fight, desire and discipline. 
Arsenal have plenty players to keep a close eye on, with Aubameyang, Ozil and Ramsey all capable of causing us real problems, however Wenger’s side have lost their last four away games in the Premier League – picking up just 13 points on the road from a possible 54!
Whilst we can’t afford to take them lightly, they’re no longer a team that will strike fear into the NUFC dress room. They can be got at defensively and can crumble if you put them under enough pressure. They lack leaders and have looked all at sea defensively when I’ve watched them over the last few weeks – backed up by the fact Petr Cech has kept just ONE clean sheet in his last 15. 
If we can show the sort of determination and organisation that we displayed at Leicester last weekend, I’m quite confident we can beat this beleaguered Arsenal side that have little to play for in the league. 
They have beaten us in all of our last 10 meetings in the league, but I’ve got a good feeling that will change tomorrow – especially given they only returned from their Europa League trip to Russia just yesterday. 

Preferred XI

Rafa has tended to pick the same side in recent weeks (and rightly so), but I’d like to see one change made by Rafa tomorrow – a desperate to impress Islam Slimani in for an under confident Dwight Gayle.

The defence and midfield picks itself right now, but the one area that’s been close to letting us down over the last few weeks is up front.
Gayle could and should have had a hat-trick against Huddersfield last time out at St James’ Park, yet it was yet another home game he blanked in. He’s working hard and making a nuisance of himself, so he still has some value to the team, but he looks woefully short of confidence and unlikely to score.
We now have a fully-fit £29m striker raring to go and ready to take his place in Islam Slimani – a man who has just six games to save his Newcastle United career.
I hope Rafa gives him his big chance. His presence, aerial prowess and eagerness to impress could be ideal to unsettle this nervy Arsenal defence.
Also, Perez was outstanding at Leicester and has been out match-winner in the last two games, but he needs to have more to work with ahead of him. Not only do I think Slimani can be that man, I feel he’ll be far more of a handful and goal-threat against this leaky Arsenal back four.
Predicted NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Dubravka– Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett – Diame, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Kenedy –  Slimani.


The Opposition

Here’s a few players to watch out for tomorrow’s visitors:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – The ex-NUFC target finally made his move to the Premier League in January and he’s made an immediate impression, scoring 6 in his first 7 Premier League games for Arsenal. He’s got frightening pace, good movement and is a real goalscorer. He didn’t play in mid-week so will be fresh for this one. The main man for us to watch tomorrow.

Aaron Ramsey – Not 100% sure if he’ll start after getting a gash on his shin in Russia on Thursday night, but he’ll be one of the main men to watch if he does play. He has a habit of getting into the right areas in and around the box and is a very clever goalscoring midfielder. One for Diame and Shelvey to keep a close eye on.

Mesut Ozil – If I was an Arsenal fan he’d wind me up no end. He has bundles of ability, yet sometimes doesn’t look interested in lifting a finger. That being said, he’s one of the main Arsenal men who has the quality to hurt us if we gave him too much time in dangerous areas.

Petr Cech – He looks a shadow of his former self to me. I’ve seen him let in several goals he could and should have saved this season, with him also having a real tendency to parry shots into dangerous areas (see CSKA’s two goals on Thursday!). Putting him under pressure and shooting on site could be the order of the day. I don’t rate him these days.

Predicted Arsenal XI – (4-2-3-1) – Cech –Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal – Elneny, Xhaka – Ozil, Ramsey, Welbeck – Aubameyang.

For an inside look into this weekend’s opponents, take a look at the latest edition of the ‘Opposition Opinion’ . A great insight into this weekend’s opponents.



Newcastle – 10th (38 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 3 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 1

Arsenal – 6th (54 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 3 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 2


Team news

Islam Slimani is available once again after being ineligible to play parent club Leicester last weekend, meaning Benitez looks set to have a fully-fit squad to choose from.

For Arsenal, both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere will be assessed late on after picking up knocks against CSKA Moscow on Thursday.

Granit Xhaka could return in midfield after missing Thursday’s game through illness, however Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been ruled out with a long-term injury.

In-form midfielder Mohamed Elneny will be available for selection for Wenger after having his red card vs Southampton overturned.


Match Prediction

I’ve got a good feeling about this one. We’re full of confidence from last weekend’s win at Leicester and it feels like we’ve thrown the shackles off at St James’ Park, winning our last three without conceding in any of them.

I think Arsenal will score, and fancy Aubameyang to cause problems, but I just think their defence is woeful and could be shown up tomorrow if we put enough pressure on them.

We’ll have to get the balance right and stick to the sort of successful game plan that’s worked so well in recent weeks, but this Arsenal side have little to play for in the league, have been awful on the road this season and played a difficult Europa League game in Russia just over 48 hours ago.

I fancy us to end our awful run against the Gunners and come away with another 3 points tomorrow!

PredictionNewcastle 2-1 Arsenal

Howay the lads!

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About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

96 thoughts on “Arsenal (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. Over the moon with that. Great win. Assist for Perez and a great goal from Ritchie, but how important was that Header from Slimani for our goal. So difficult to pick a man of the match as everyone of them did well, but I think I have to go for Jonjo Shelvey. He and Diame bossed the midfield today.

    It’s a bit quiet on here today… ?


  2. Excellent win for us today!! Really happy with Benitez and the players 😎
    My only message is to Mike Ashley is get your chequebook out and support your manager with transfer’s in the summer.


  3. Cracking game to watch and all of our players deserve praise for that performance and for coming back from behind.
    For me , NUFC man of the match should be men of the match as the entire team deserved it.
    Now that we have cleared the 40 point mark , Kimtoon might be convinced we are staying up.


  4. I am telling you, man. The best 2 English midfielders in the Premier League are not going to the World Cup – Shelvey and Milner. Wilshere might FFS.


  5. What a result and what a way to consolidate our safety!

    It was only 2 weeks ago some sky sports pundit was insisting we were still going down.

    13 points clear of the relegation zone and there is daylight between us and the bottom half of the table! Madness!

    2 points off 8th!


  6. Great result .. long may this run continue

    Sounds like wenger was his usual graceless self in defeat.

    Praise from the BBC of all places too
    ” Given the uncertainty over the club’s ownership and the lack of funds available to manager Rafael Benitez, Newcastle’s move towards survival is one of the stories of the league this season”

    Come on fat boy .. sell up and piss off and let Benitez loose on the premier league with the toon.


  7. Yep safe as houses now, gonna enjoy rest of the season.

    Well this is embarrassing for Manure isn’t it 😆


  8. Wenger always been a bloody bad loser,even down to a disgrace at times,newcastle should not have had any points from this game,what a ****head


  9. icedog:
    Wenger always been a bloody bad loser,even down to a disgrace at times,newcastle should not have had any points from this game,what a ****head

    Yeah, it’s bad form, but expected he’s always the same.


  10. You know we go above Everton now if we beat them. they have spent 250 million in the last 2 years.


  11. Quite. He’s delivered some great teams in the past but never showed any humility in defeat or success. Similar to the odious **** at manure all those years

    Yesterdays men and good riddance.

    Chirpy Rafa is the future ??

    Wenger always been a bloody bad loser,even down to a disgrace at times,newcastle should not have had any points from this game,what a ****head


  12. Olly Hawkins:
    Got my prediction spot on!

    Class win. Post match thoughts and new thread coming soon.

    I got mine right. Last week as well. I am just going for 2-1 to the Toon from now on.


  13. Olly: good predictions from your Arsenal fan 🙂 I think I will do the opposite to what he says.


  14. I used to do that with Troy Stavers but he doesn’t come on anymore. Pity. I could have made a fortune.


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