It’s been almost a year since the last time these two meet at SJP. Arsenal FC and Newcastle United will face each other after spending the last 12 months doing pretty much the same, no matter what the Gunners say: clinching a Champions League place.
Of course, AFC fans will tell you that they have done much more. They will tell you they were this close to winning the Premier League in 2023. They will tell you that they, in fact, led the table for the greater part of the season. For what? For a second-place finish, at best.
Newcastle fans, instead, will keep it real and humble, tell you that the Magpies are still sweating a top-4 finish, forget about making it to the no. 2 place in the table. Hey, Man Utd is entering the weekend just two points behind Newcastle, both having played 33 matches. Liverpool is six points down with one more game played, yes, but they can still climb all the way to trump Newcastle and leave the Tyneside organization cold and playing Europa instead of Champions League football. Step by step, game by game, you know what I’m saying?
But look at the table, and Arsenal’s 78 points are simply worth the same as Newcastle’s 65. Second place, third place, not first place, not fourth place. It is what it is. They had the chance to lift the chip and flopped. Newcastle were almost relegated a year ago and now they’re going blow for blow against AFC.
Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta should, in fact, thank our main man Eddie for the favor he did the Spaniard a year ago when they went against each other on May 16th, 2022. That defeat, as painful as it might have been for the Gunners—it removed Arsenal from Champions League contention—enabled what has been a fun season to enjoy by the lads from the capital.
And hey, they can’t complain, they might not end up winning the EPL but they got to watch a coronation on Saturday! That doesn’t happen every day, folks! Arsenal have won six first-division titles—including three Premier Leagues—since Queen Elizabeth took the throne compared to the single time Londoners have watched a new King take the reins in that same span. How about that!?
Do you think Arsenal fanatics would be happy had their team embarked on a run such as that of Leicester after they finally broke for Champions League qualification after winning the title a few years ago? They went on to finish 12th in the Premier League the following season. It took them three years to crack the top-5 again, and they’re now toying with getting relegated.
No need to fantasize about any of that anymore, though, as Arsenal won’t be winning the league and the most important thing here is that Newcastle is about to welcome the Champions League hymh to SJP for the first time in the past 20 years next September. How times have changed...
Howe took to the microphones and addressed the most pressing questions by the media on Friday two days before the Magpies return to St James’ Park for the game against Arsenal scheduled for Sunday, May 7th.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
The Guardian predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Gunners are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Krafth (knee), Lascelles (hamstring)
- Doubtful: Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Longstaff (ankle)
- You know Steady Eddie, don’t you? Well, if you don’t, then let me introduce you to the man. This is Eddie Howe, the man of no-rotations. The man of playing whoever is the fittest player, only, you know, who always uses the same XI unless there is something very crazy going on.
- Now, if you have been paying attention—if you have not, just a quick peep at the top of the league table will help you—then you already know that Arsenal are pretty much fighting for the title (not happening) while Newcastle are fighting for that very desired and anticipated top-4 finish. So yeah, a clash of top-3 teams in the league. It doesn’t get much better and tougher than this, so Howe is just not going to do anything wild.
- Howe is not a Guardiolesque coach that is going to reinvent the wheel or anything. NUFC have a stout defense. They are dropping goals these days. You know what they say: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. In other words, chalk these name into your lineup: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn, Bruno, Joelinton, Willock.
- That’s already the GK, the full four-man line, two of three midfielders, and a mid/forward player in Joelinton. That leaves three very important holes open through the lineup, though.
- Actually, that leaves three open slots in the lineup, but all of them in the forward line including both wings and the striker position—that’s because Longstaff has been rehabbing from an injury and while this is a must-win, hella-hard matchup, it’s not that the Magpies should be risking him against a rival that will be tough as nails with a potential re-injury happening and forcing Howe to miss him in the remaining four, much-more-winnable games.
- So with both wings open and a striker in front of them, I would seriously consider playing both Alexander Isak (left inside-forward) and Callum Wilson (lone striker) against Arsenal. The guys are going to need smoking hot firepower against the Gunners, so screw it and go all-in with your top forwards/goalscorer/final-third creators.
- Still one wing open. And there are plenty of options to fill it: Miggy, Gordon, and Murphy all pose interesting cases. If and only if Howe wants to rotate, he will have a good chance to do so with his choice for the right-winger position considering Murphy started last Sunday and Gordon did too on the opposite end. That meant Miguel Almiron rested, and that might also mean that Miguel Almiron (who was the must-start RW at the start of the season) is in a perfect place to retake what was once his.
- That said, Jacob Murphy is unplayable these days so I wouldn’t rule him out. I just prefer Almiron (assuming he’s at a 100% fitness level) running up and down the pitch and giving maximum effort as he always does.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Joelinton - Bruno - Willock
WNG Almiron - Isak
⚪️— Arsenal (@Arsenal) May 7, 2023
Gabriel fit to start
⚖️ Xhaka in the middle
Come on you Gunners! pic.twitter.com/Hp26NeWjLw
- Date: Sunday, May 7th
- Kick-off: 16:30 BST / 11:30 EST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: fuboTV (CAN) — Telemundo Deportes En Vivo, SiriusXM FC, USA Network, Telemundo, nbcsports.com, NBC Sports App (USA) — Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, BBC Radio 5 Live, SKY GO Extra, Sky Ultra HD (UK)
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Howay the Lads!