Newcastle vs. Arsenal
Venue: St. James’ Park
Kick off: 2PM
Newcastle United take on Arsenal in the Premier League this afternoon, with the hosts looking to take another step towards surviving relegation.
Arsenal, meanwhile, will be looking to remain in the top half of the table ahead of their Europa League semi-final second leg against Villarreal on Thursday.
After a winless run of six league games saw Newcastle slip perilously closer to the relegation zone, Steve Bruce’s side have since taken eight points from their last four matches to move nine points clear of 18th-placed Fulham with only five matches remaining.
Within that run there have been two impressive draws against Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, with Arsenal loanee Joe Willock scoring dramatic late equalisers on both occasions.
While it may be a stretch to argue that Newcastle deserved a point at Anfield last weekend given that the Reds had 22 shots and 69% possession across the match, with Jurgen Klopp’s faltering outfit missing several straightforward chances, the Magpies demonstrated their increasing resolve by remaining in the game.
Substitute Callum Wilson thought he had scored an injury-time equaliser after racing in behind Liverpool’s high line before bundling the ball over the line, but saw his strike disallowed due to handball.
However, the visitors were not to be denied gaining a crucial point, with Willock’s deflected effort five minutes into added time stealing a share of the spoils.
In truth, it could be a perfect time for Newcastle to be playing Arsenal, whose season largely rests on their progress in the Europa League.
The Gunners lost 2-1 away to Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday, with Nicolas Pepe claiming a crucial away goal from the penalty spot after two first-half strikes from the Spanish outfit had been compounded by Dani Ceballos’s red card shortly after the break.
Mikel Arteta must quickly turn his attention back to domestic matters, then, ahead of today’s trip to the North East.
In truth, Arsenal have little left to play for in the Premier League this season, with perhaps avoiding falling into the bottom half of the table the Spaniard’s only real concern.
Newcastle United possible XI: Dubravka, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Murphy, Shelvey, Longstaff, Ritchie, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Wilson.
Arsenal possible XI: Ryan, Bellerin, Luiz, Gabriel, Cedric, Elneny, Ceballos, Willian, Smith-Rowe, Martinelli, Aubameyang.