Newcastle United may be sitting just above the relegation zone, but they will be buoyed by the goalless draw at Old Trafford and head to the Arsenal clash in good spirits. The Gunners, on the other hand, have had a disappointing start to the Premier League campaign, and they desperately need to show some improvement at St James’ Park.
Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is used to by know to being under constant fire from the fans, but it appears that last season’s performance when the Magpies almost got relegated has served as a wake-up call. The club management first did a great job by appointing Steve McClaren as the new boss, before helping the former England manager recruit a number of high-profile footballers. The likes of Georginio Wijnaldum, Florian Thauvin, Chancel Mbemba and Aleksandar Mitrovic should seriously improve the squad and with Siem de Jong also closing in on full fitness, the Magpies have reason for optimism. Newcastle did not exactly impress in the opening exchanges, sharing spoils with Southampton at St James’ Park before losing to Swansea at Liberty Stadium, but they then showed a great deal of improvement to hold in-form Manchester United to a goalless draw. The Magpies will now be looking to build on that performance and with the likes of Daryl Janmaat and Moussa Sissoko returning to the side, the hosts have reason for optimism despite playing host to top 4 contenders Arsenal.
Having shown a great deal of potential last season, Arsenal had high hopes ahead of the new Premier League campaign, despite the fact that Petr Cech was the only notable player to arrive during the summer. Arsene Wenger has hinted that he may make another late foray into the transfer market, but I would be quite surprised to see him land a marquee signing or two in the next few days. The Gunners started the new season by pipping Chelsea to the Community Shield trophy, but just as everyone expected them to prove their title ambitions, Arsenal went on and lost at home to West Ham, with new signing Petr Cech at fault for at least one of the two goals. And while Arsene Wenger’s charges did compensate by beating Crystal Palace on the road, another disappointing showing in the home clash with Liverpool is a definite cause for concern. The Gunners allowed their top 4 rivals to create a host of clear-cut chances and they had revived Cech to thank for keeping a rare clean sheet. This Arsenal team obviously have plenty of room for improvement and they are bound to come good eventually, but they could face all sorts of problems at St James’ Park. Important defender Per Mertesacker is almost certain to miss out, whereas Laurent Koscielny is a major doubt through a back problem.
Newcastle have been showing signs of improvement under Steve McClaren and the new-found confidence will keep them in good stead for the Arsenal clash. It is perfectly clear that the Gunners have yet to hit the ground running and I seriously doubt that is going to happen ahead of the international break.
Verdict: Newcastle not to lose
Best Odds: 13/10