An Arsenal side struggling for form and sitting seventh in the table need a boost in their quest to reclaim their Champions League status. Enter Newcastle, a team on a terrible run of form that has seen them lose seven out of their last eight. Could the home side have wished for a better opponent to help them snap out of their current malaise and set them up for a decent run over the festive period?
Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:
Arsene Wenger’s side come into this game on the back of a 0-0 draw away to West Ham midweek – their third straight league game without a win that sees them 19 points off the top of the table. Wenger refused to outright give up on the title, saying: “We want to fight, our job is to fight and to continue to give everything and see where we finish.”
Arsenal are on a nine-game winning run against the Magpies, a run they have only bettered in the Premier League (PL) era with 11 straight victories over Manchester City between August ’94 and September ’04.
Furthermore, despite their woes away from home this season, Arsenal have claimed 21 points at the Emirates out of a possible 24. In the seven victories gained there, Arsenal have kept five clean sheets. Both games last season between these two sides ended 1-0 to Arsenal.
Rafa Benitez and his Newcastle side are on a dreadful run of form which has seen them slip down the table to 15th, just two points off the relegation places going into this round 18 clash. Their midweek game saw them lose 1-0 at home to a resurgent Everton side in a game that saw Jonjo Shelvey receive his second red card this season to count him out of this game.
Over the last eight games, Newcastle have won less points than any other PL side. Benitez can take little comfort from his record at Arsenal as he is yet to win a game there in eight attempts (D3, L5) in all competitions.
Things are going to have to turn around soon for Newcastle otherwise they could be staring at their third PL relegation square in the face come May. Arsenal, on the other hand, will be warm favourites for this one despite the recurring ‘Groundhog Day’ theme to their seasons these days.
Arsenal: S. Cazorla (Achilles tendon injury), A. Ramsey (thigh injury), S. Mustafi (doubtful), T. Walcott (doubtful)
Newcastle: J. Shelvey (suspension), P, Dummett (doubtful).