Verdict: Arsenal win
Best Odds: 8/11
Desperate to secure a top-four return this season, Arsenal will open their Premier League campaign when they make the trip to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.
Starting with the hosts, after seeing Rafa Benitez end his tenure at St. James’ Park over the summer, many Newcastle fans are concerned the Magpies might find themselves in the midst of a relegation scrap this season. While the news that Steve Bruce would be taking over the vacant role surprising many in the North West, they have ended their pre-season in impressive fashion. Picking up a 2-1 win over Ligue 1 outfit Saint Etienne last weekend to build off their empathic 3-1 win away at Hibernian, Newcastle have won three of their final four pre-season appearances over the summer and the former Sunderland boss will know that his side must show a similar resolve at St. James’ if they’re to avoid the drop this season. Including securing a famous 2-1 win over eventual champions Manchester City last year, the Magpies won six of their last eight Premier League matches on home soil and also recorded two or more goals in seven of those contests, including a brace against Liverpool in their penultimate match of the season.
Newcastle full-back DeAndre Yedlin has been ruled out as he continues to recover from a groin operation. Record signing Joelinton is expected to start but fellow striker Andy Carroll is not yet available.
As for the visitors, after surprising many and spending big during the summer transfer window, there is no doubt that Arsenal have their sights set on securing a Champions League return this season. Desperate to show some improvements after suffering a 4-1 hammering against Chelsea in May’s Europa League final, Unai Emery’s side have had to deal with an inconsistent run during pre-season. Throwing away a 1-0 lead at the Nou Camp and handed a 2-1 defeat by Barcelona in their final appearance of the summer, the Gunners have lost three of their last four contests and their only victory since the 20th of July came in a penalties victory over French outfit Angers SCO. Also suffering with some very worrying issues outside of North London last season, the former PSG boss will be looking for last year’s leading goalscorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to extend on his eye-catching run during pre-season. Finding the net at the Nou Camp earlier in the week, the Gabon international recorded 22 top-flight goals in the 2018/2019 campaign. Team News
Arsenal forward Mesut Ozil and defender Sead Kolasinac will not feature because of security concerns. Forward Alexandre Lacazette has an ankle injury and will be assessed, along with record signing Nicolas Pepe and Mohamed Elneny.
Key Factors to Consider
- Arsenal have won 12 of their last 13 matches against Newcastle.
- Only two of the last six matches between the two sides has seen over 2.5 goals at full-time.
- The Gunners have also won five of their last six matches at St. James’ Park, including a 2-1 win last season.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored 22 Premier League goals last season.
- New Newcastle striker Joelinton scored in back-to-back pre-season matchups.
Although Arsenal may have endured a tricky pre-season and showed some very worrying issues away from the Emirates last year, Unai Emery has heavily invested in his squad and should be confident of making an early statement. Given the Gunners’ very eye-catching record against Sunday’s hosts, we’re backing the North London outfit to come away with an opening weekend victory at St. James’ Park.
Verdict: Arsenal win
Best Odds: 8/11
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