Newcastle have come alive at just the right time. The Toon have won three matches in a row moving them into the top half of the table and 10 points off relegation with six matches to play. This hot streak has comfortably pushed Rafa Benitez’s men out of the relegation picture and into the safety of mid-table. At this point, Benitez’s side can relax, but they would love a win against Arsenal to push them over the 40 point mark.
Arsenal advanced through to the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday after a 2-2 draw on Thursday led to a 6-3 aggregate win over CSKA Moscow. The Gunners focus is squarely on the Europa League at this point, so that could affect their performance on this match against Newcastle. They have also been completely incompetent away from home this season. Arsenal have lost their last four away matches in the Premier League and have only taken 13 points from 15 Premier League away matches all season.
Newcastle will continue to be without Jesus Gamez with an ankle injury. Outside of that, Newcastle should have a totally fit side, according to transfermarkt.com
Arsenal will be without David Ospina, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Santi Cazorla with ankle, knee, and Achilles injuries respectively, according to Physioroom.com. They could also be without Granit Xhaka after he missed the trip to Moscow through illness. The Gunners will have Mohammed Elneny after his red card against Southampton was overturned by the FA.
Newcastle United: Ayoze Perez
Newcastle’s last two matches have both been decided by one goal and Perez has got the winner in both of them. The Spaniard has contributed to eight goals this season, tied with Dwight Gayle for the team lead. The big problem with Newcastle this season has been that they have lacked offensive firepower, but Perez has been about as close to an offensive threat as they have and him coming into form is great for them.
Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Arsenal’s focus may be on the Europa League, but Aubameyang’s ineligibility for the competition means he is only focused on the Premier League. He has got off to a red-hot start in the competition, scoring six goals in his first seven appearances. Aubameyang earned a reputation as one of the best strikers in Europe at Borussia Dortmund and is proving himself to be just that at Arsenal. The Gunners may be incompetent away from home, but a great striker can cover up a lot of problems.
Arsenal are a more talented team than Newcastle, but their away record over the last 12 months or so indicates that they cannot be trusted to beat teams away from home at this point in time. Combine that with the Toon’s good run of form and it makes it difficult to pick the more talented team to win this one.
Prediction: 2-1 win for Newcastle