On Saturday August 29th, Arsenal travel to St James’ Park to take on Newcastle United. After only picking up four points from their first three games, this is almost a must win game for the Gunners as they travel to the northeast. Newcastle have also had a slow start to the season with only two points from three games. The Magpies were able to get a point against both Manchester United and Southampton, but their 2-0 loss to Swansea leaves them only one place above the relegation zone. Both teams could do with the points, which should lead to a very interesting game.
Newcastle will be without a few players, but their main concern will be the fitness of Moussa Sissoko. The Frenchman is suffering with a groin injury and his status for the game on Saturday is unknown. Considering he is one of only two Newcastle players to score against Arsenal in the last five meetings, they’ll be hoping he passes fit. Steve McLaren will definitely be without Curtis Good, Emmanuel Riviere, and Sylvain Marveaux.
Arsenal will be sweating the fitness of a few players, most notably Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker. Mertesacker is almost certainly out with an illness, while Koscienly will be touch and go with a back problem. They’ll also be without the likes of Danny Welbeck, Jack Wilshere, and Tomas Rosicky who are all out with long term injuries.
- Arsenal have won the last seven matches against Newcastle.
- The London side have won their last three matches at St James’ Park and are unbeaten in their last nine trips to Newcastle.
- Olivier Giroud has scored six goals in his last four matches vs Newcastle.
- Newcastle striker Alexander Mitrovic has the highest yellow cards per minute rate in the Premier League.
Newcastle: Florian Thauvin
Newcastle’s latest French signing has hit the ground running for the Magpies. After making his debut off the bench against Manchester United, Thauvin starred in the 4-1 win over Northampton. After scoring the first goal, the Frenchman assisted the other three as Newcastle ran out 4-1 winners. After announcing his arrival against League Two side Northampton, the former Marseille man will have to show he can do it against the Premier League big boys with the visit of Arsenal. With his ability to beat a man and play dangerous balls, he has the quality too compound Arsenal’s poor start to the season.
Arsenal: Mesut Ozil
While some Arsenal players have struggled to start the season, Mesut Ozil has not been one of them. The German is third in the league in total chances created and is averaging 3.78 chances created per game. Ozil has done his job this season creating chances left right and centre, but his teammates have not been able to finish them. If he can continue in this vain of form though, his teammates will eventually start putting them away. He has the quality and the creativity to unlock the Newcastle defence and win Arsenal the match.
With both teams struggling, Arsenal will go into this one as slight favourites. That said, a trip to St James’ Park is never an easy one. Despite only two points from three games, Newcastle have looked much better than they did at the end of last season and will provide a stern test for the Gunners. Eventually though, I still think this will end in a win for the Gunners.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal