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Preview: Newcastle United vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of Arsenal's Premier League trip to winless Newcastle United.

Arsenal will be looking to maintain their upward trajectory when they make the trip north to face Newcastle United at St James' Park this weekend.

The Gunners have recovered from a disappointing start to the season that saw them lose successive matches by winning two on the spin, leaving them just inside the top half of the table.

Newcastle United

DeAndre Yedlin celebrates with Newcastle United teammate Salomon Rondon after equalising against Manchester City on September 1, 2018© Reuters

While Arsenal have managed to find some momentum in recent weeks, Newcastle are still waiting for lift-off in their second season back in the Premier League.

The Magpies' only point from a possible 12 so far came away at fellow winless side Cardiff City, having suffered defeats either side to Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City.

All three of those defeats to last season's top five sides came by a one-goal margin, and this weekend's clash marks the end of what has been an extremely tough opening month to the campaign for Rafael Benitez.

Only one more member of the division's top-six elite remains between now and Boxing Day - a 13-match run that will give United a chance to find some momentum of their own and potentially climb away from their current position inside the bottom three.

The overriding theme for Newcastle in 2018-19 has been their reluctance to attack their opponents, having seen just 22% of the ball against Man City last time out - a slight improvement on the 19% at home to Chelsea a week beforehand.

Just four shots on target in those two games combined suggests that an improvement is needed in an attacking sense, and Benitez admitted as much in the aftermath of the narrow 2-1 loss to champions Man City before the two-week hiatus.

More of the same can surely be expected this weekend, as Arsenal are another side who love to boss possession - even more so under Unai Emery - although Benitez appears to have finally found the secret to success against the Gunners.

After losing six in a row against Arsenal in the Premier League, Benitez has since won two of his last three in all competitions, giving hope that this could be the fixture that kickstarts his side's season.

Recent form in Premier League: LDLL
Recent form (all competitions): LDLLL


Arsenal manager Unai Emery has a point to make on August 25, 2018© Reuters

The statistics did not make for good reading after defeats to Man City and Chelsea, as Unai Emery became the first Arsenal manager to lose his first two games in charge since Steve Burtenshaw in 1986.

The Gunners were completely outclassed by the champions and, bar a 10-minute period on top against the Blues, were also second best at Stamford Bridge as Emery's tenure got off to the worst possible start.

Since then, though, the North Londoners have battled to a 3-1 triumph at home to West Ham United - a scoreline that makes the match look a little more one-sided than it was - and dug deep to see off Cardiff in their most recent game.

Twice Cardiff battled back from behind to leave them on course for a shock result, but Alexandre Lacazette maintained his impressive form by blasting home a later winner in South Wales.

That was the Gunners' second away win in three Premier League games, with the other coming at Huddersfield Town in Arsene Wenger's final game in charge, matching the points tally accrued in their previous 11 combined.

Resolving his side's away-day blues was one of the top priorities for Emery, and he can achieve that this weekend if Arsenal make it back-to-back wins on their travels for the first time since May 2017.

Arsenal are, in the words of their Spanish boss, "evolving" following a period of stagnation under Wenger, and the facts and figures show that the Gunners are covering more distance than ever.

With a run of four successive home games to come in all competitions after Saturday, Emery now needs his players to show their mental toughness in escaping from St James' Park with maximum points. Anything less and the same old questions will surely be asked.

Recent form: LLWW

Team News

Alexandre Lacazette in action for Arsenal on August 25, 2018© Reuters

Lacazette has now been directly involved in seven goals in his last five Premier League starts - five of his own and two assists - and will surely keep his place in the side this weekend.

Emery must decide whether that comes at the expense of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has 11 league goals to his name since February, or he could pair the attacking duo together for the second match running.

That leaves two available spots for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Alex Iwobi, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil to fight over, with the latter two getting the nod against Cardiff a fortnight ago.

Elsewhere, Lucas Torreira may be made to wait a little longer for his full debut after returning from international duty with a minor calf problem.

In terms of the hosts, Benitez is optimistic that Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie will be back from injury after being give a two-week rest.

Salomon Rondon has now cemented the centre-forward position, so Kenedy, Ayoze Perez and Jacob Murphy could be left to battle it out for inclusion in the other attacking berth.

Benitez is also expected to retain his five-man backline, which could be bolstered by the return of Fabian Schar alongside skipper Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark.

Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett; Murphy, Diame, Shelvey, Kenedy; Rondon

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal; Guendouzi, Xhaka; Ozil, Ramsey, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Head To Head

Newcastle won this fixture 2-1 last season to end a 10-match losing run against Arsenal in the Premier League, courtesy of goals from Perez and Ritchie.

The Magpies last won successive games against the Gunners more than two decades ago, when winning four on the bounce between May 1994 and January 1996.

More recently, it is just two victories - the other a 1-0 away triumph in November 2010 - in 23 meetings for United across the last 13 years.

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We say: Newcastle United 1-3 Arsenal

Newcastle have yet to take a point off any of last season's top six sides from their three matches this term, with Benitez coming in for criticism for his pragmatic style of play. More of the same is expected this weekend and, despite picking up victory the last time these two sides met earlier this year, this is a fixture that the Magpies tend to struggle in.

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Who will win Saturday's Premier League meeting between Newcastle United and Arsenal?

Newcastle United
Newcastle United
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Rafael Benitez in charge of Newcastle United on May 13, 2018
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