Thank the Gods that we are back to proper football at last, and after Tottenham’s tragic loss (hehe) yesterday, Arsenal can now go two points clear of our rivals and leapfrog them into third place in the League table. But we have the small matter of beating Newcastle at the Emirates to reach that goal.
On paper it should be easy, especially when you consider our amazing home form before the international break, in fact we have won the last 9 in a row. Here are our last six League games….
Although Newcastle have had a bit of a resurgence lately, they are still without an away win for their last 7 games, and here is their recent away form….
Although the Magpies have only won twice away this season, they are notoriously hard to beat and have actually drawn more (7) than they have lost (6). Their resilience on the road is also shown by their goals conceded (20) which is only bettered by Man City, Liverpool and Wolves. Arsenal have conceded 27!
So that tells us that Benitez likes to try desperately to get at least a point from away games and he does it very well. Then he has Almiron (who is having a fitness test), Perez and Rondon up front waiting for a quick counter attack or a lucky set-piece to give them their goals. Other than Almiron, Lascelles and Yedlin will also be tested but all are expected to make the squad, but the Magpies are definitely going to miss defender Fabien Schar, who is suspended for this, and Sean Longstaff is in the treatment room.
Arsenal themselves are missing Torreira through suspension as well, but otherwise are surprisingly injury free after the internationals. With the Gunners amazing home form it is little surprise that Arsenal are as short as 1.385 with MustardBet, and some gamblers may think there is better value on Newcastle frustrating us as the draw is over 4/1 with the same firm. I simply can’t see Newcastle keeping us out for long if we are in the same form as before the break.
Arsenal have had terrible luck with defensive injuries this season, but now that Emery has a full complement of players to choose from we are keeping more clean sheets. I don’t think that Newcastle will get out of their half much anyway, so the odds on backing against Both Teams To Score is a very good price of nearly 1.90, so that would probably be my banker bet of the game as I expect Arsenal to win to nil.
Newcastle are practically safe already and probably only need another 4 points out of their last 8 games to guarantee the EPL for another year, so I’m not sure that this game will be one of Benitez’s priorities. I have a feeling that they will make it easy for us today to conserve energy for more winnable games. They will fight as long as it is 0-0, but i think they will give up as soon as Arsenal take a lead.
Benitez is a master strategist and is well aware which games are winnable, and this is not one of them! He said: ‘If you see what Arsenal are doing, they are doing really well, so we cannot expect that it will be an easy game.
‘If we can do what we have to do and can get three points, then it depends on the others. But some of the other teams have got some points, so it’s not that you can say, “Now 37 is guaranteed”, it depends what they do.
‘We have now 35 and we are fine, but still we have to win. For me, one game could be enough, but you never know, it depends on the other teams.
‘I had a conversation before with my staff and we were taking about that. We’ll just carry on.
‘The next game is the most important for us, it’s like a final for us and don’t think about what the others will do.’
He may say today is a final, but he knows he has seven more finals ahead (like Palace and Southampton at home) to get those coveted points, so why risk injury or fatigue in a game you can’t win? Arsenal will win this game easily, and will jump into Third Place in the League. Another reason I am so sure is the fact that Emery can play his very best side again (excepting Torreira) as we don’t play again until next weekend. The boss will want to make very sure – so I am predicting this starting XI…..
That should be more than enough to blow the Magpies away, so my prediction is an easy 4-0 win for us, and we go back above the Mancs and the Spuds! I just noticed that on MustardBet the Asian Handicap is set at -1.25. Arsenal will cover that easily. Lump on it at nearly even money! COYG!