Newcastle had yet another tumultuous summer. Rafa Benitez left the club after he could not agree to a new contract. Now it is up to new manager Steve Bruce to save the Magpies from relegation once again. He’ll have a difficult debut as top-four hopefuls Arsenal visit St. James’ Park.
Arsenal enter the season with one mandate: get back into the Champions League. After missing out on the top four by a single point and losing in the Europa League final the Gunners spent over £100m over the summer to bolster the squad. Now it’s time for Unai Emery to prove his mettle and get Arsenal back into the Champions League after three seasons out of Europe’s top competition.
Newcastle will be without a number of squad players going into the first match of the season. DeAndre Yedlin, Florian Lejeune and Jack Colback through injury, according to Physioroom.com. New signing Andy Carroll will also miss out as he continues to work his way back to match fitness. Dwight Gayle will continue to be assessed, but is a long shot to play, while Matt Ritchie will have a late fitness test, according to Physioroom.com.
Arsenal have many injuries to deal with to open the season. Hector Bellerin, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Emile Smith Rowe, Rob Holding and new signing Kieran Tierney will all miss out with injuries, according to Arsenal.com. Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny and club-record signing Nicolas Pepe will all continue to be assessed and have a decision made on their fitness made on Sunday, according to Arsenal.com. Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac will also miss out after “further security incidents,” according to a statement from the club.
Newcastle United: Joelinton
Newcastle needed a goalscorer with the departure of Salomon Rondon. They made Joelinton their record signing in hopes that he is that player. The 22-year-old scored seven goals in 2136 minutes in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim. He’ll hope to improve that scoring rate now that he is the number one striker for the Magpies. They could have a tough time staying in the Premier League if he doesn’t. He’ll have a good chance to start the season strong against Arsenal’s porous defence.
Arsenal: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Aubameyang had a fantastic first full season in England, sharing the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The Gabon striker scored 23 goals and helped keep Arsenal in contention for the top four throughout the season. He’ll need to have a similar season to propel Arsenal into the top four.
Newcastle have a significantly weaker squad than Arsenal, but the Gunners have been awful away from home for a couple of years. If the Magpies can exploit Arsenal’s leaky defence on the break, they have a real shot to win. That will be a tall task for Newcastle’s blunt attack and ultimately they may come up short.
Prediction: 2-1 Arsenal