Arsenal will aim to remain in the driving seat for Champions League football when they travel to Newcastle United for their penultimate game of the Premier League season on Monday night.
The Magpies most recently went down 5-0 to Manchester City, while the Gunners were torn apart in a 3-0 North London derby defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday night.
With the threat of an unthinkable relegation from the first tier now staved off, Newcastle are enjoying a slow cruise to the finish line and have seen manager Eddie Howe rewarded with a Manager of the Season nomination since the Magpies’ revival in January.
While the lucrative takeover must also be taken into account, Howe has overseen a stellar period of progression at St James’ Park, although their recent trip to the Etihad proved that they are not quite ready to go toe-to-toe with the big boys just yet.
Pep Guardiola’s side are always a dangerous proposition to face in the wake of their European exits and hit the Magpies for five without reply last weekend, leaving Howe’s side down in 14th in the rankings but safe in the knowledge that they will be a Premier League team next season.
A trip to a Burnley side still involved in the relegation dogfight does not represent the most comfortable of final-day fixtures, but Newcastle welcome Arsenal for their final home game of the campaign having won six of their last seven at St James’ Park – only losing to Liverpool in that time.
In fact, only Liverpool, Man City, Tottenham, West Ham United and Chelsea have prevailed against Newcastle at St James’ Park in the Premier League this term, and a confidence-hit Arsenal cannot expect to be welcomed to Tyneside with a friendly atmosphere awaiting them.
Claiming that he would be “suspended for six months” if he spoke on the referee’s performance against Spurs summed up a day where everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Mikel Arteta, who witnessed his side capitulate in a humbling North London derby defeat.
Harry Kane’s penalty and header propelled Spurs into a 2-0 first-half lead after the volatile Rob Holding was sent for an early bath, and Son Heung-min added a third for the rampant Lilywhites just after the restart during a party atmosphere in the capital.
Maximum spoils for Arsenal at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium would have confirmed their spot in the Champions League while dashing their opponents’, but Spurs have now cut the gap to the fourth-placed Gunners to just one point and could rise above them with a draw against Burnley on Sunday.
Still forced to welcome a survival-chasing Everton to the Emirates, Arsenal have no time to dwell on their derby drubbing, but they have now gone eight games without a clean sheet and will be working with a severely depleted defence for the trip north.
Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli’s second-half strikes propelled the Gunners to a 2-0 win over Newcastle at the Emirates earlier this term – their eighth win in a row against the Magpies, who have failed to find the back of the net in this fixture since September 2018.
Newcastle United Premier League form:
Arsenal Premier League form:
We say: Newcastle United 2-2 Arsenal
It has been over three years since Newcastle breached Arsenal’s defence, but the Gunners are leaking goals at an alarming rate, and Allan Saint-Maximin in particular will fancy his chances against the Gunners’ full-backs.
When Arsenal are in a bad moment, they are in a very bad moment, but Newcastle are still prone to the odd lacklustre defensive showing and could shake hands on an entertaining draw with the Gunners – not that it will do much good for the visitors’ Champions League hopes.