Arsenal must take Newcastle United very seriously when they face off on Sunday.
At the beginning of the season, a lot of people would have had Newcastle as relegation candidates, especially with Steve Bruce at the helm, not no more.
Bruce’s men have been a bit of a surprise this season and right now, they sit on the same points as Arsenal with only goal difference separating them after 25 games apiece.
Here are four reasons why I believe Arsenal cannot afford to underestimate the Geordies.
Newcastle is not scared of the so-called big teams.
They have beaten Tottenham away, they have beaten Man Utd and Chelsea at home and held Man City, also at home, any way you slice that, it is very impressive. Add to that two draws with Wolves and sharing of the points with Everton last month and you quickly realise that they are very dangerous opponents.
They are in great form right now
Newcastle is unbeaten in their last eight games in all competitions, which is one game more than Arsenal’s current unbeaten run. In better words, they visit the Emirates in good shape.
They actually have some very good players
Joelinton, Almiron, Hayden and Atsu are decent players and while it can be argued that Joelinton and Almiron have struggled in front of the goal they have stuck at it and only recently started to be rewarded for their efforts and have started to find their scoring boots, Atsu has as many assists as Arsenal’s leading goal creator Nicholas Pepe while playing a third of the minutes. Aubameyang apart, Newcastle’s players stand up rather well alongside Arsenal players in terms of stats.
Never say die spirit
They do keep going right to the end, two injury-time goals secured them a draw with in-form Everton, a last-minute winner against Chelsea, an 83rd-minute winner against Crystal Palace, an 87th-minute winner against Southampton and the 88th-minute equaliser against Man City all point to a team that possesses a never say die spirit.
Newcastle has had some stinkers this season for sure, they have scored less and conceded more than Arsenal but their lack of fear against the big teams, their current form, some quality players and a strong mentality that sees them going to the very end makes them a team that Arsenal cannot underestimate.