• Newcastle has a few lineup headaches it has to deal with, but are the Magpies still a smart bet to beat Arsenal at home?
By Luis Miguel Echegaray
September 14, 2018

Newcastle vs. Arsenal

Saturday, 10:00 a.m ET

Arsenal ML -115/Newcastle United ML +300/Draw +275

Arsenal visits Newcastle at St. James’ Park as Unai Emery’s squad looks for a third consecutive victory in this young EPL season, while Newcastle hopes the international break was an opportunity to recharge as the Magpies search for their first win of the season.

Here are three things to know before betting on Newcastle vs. Arsenal:

1. Last season in this same fixture, Newcastle came from a goal behind to secure a 2-1 victory as Rafa Benitez’s team grabbed a fourth consecutive league win. It was also the club’s first home win against the Gunners since December 2005, while Arsenal continued its poor away form, which was a major reason why the Gunners failed to qualify for the Champions League.

But this is going to be a different match for a few reasons. For starters, their last encounter happened in April, and the Gunners, drained from a disappointing 2017-18 campaign, were short on creativity as Newcastle was fighting for its life in the Premier League. The stakes, in many ways, were at an all-time high for the hosts.

Turn to this Saturday and this is a new Arsenal, refreshed and ready to climb up the table. Emery’s big focus is delivering results in hostile situations, and given a stronger squad this time around (boosted by the additions of Lucas Torreira, Sokratis and Matteo Guendouzi) this is a great opportunity for the North London team to continue its good run.

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2. If Newcastle wants to win this game, it has to feed Salomon Rondon, the in-form Venezuelan striker who was purchased from West Brom this summer. Rondon scored two goals for his country against Panama during the international break, and that was after an assist against Man City and his first goal for the Magpies against Nottingham Forest in the second round of the League Cup (though Newcastle lost 3-1).

The problem, however, is that Rondon didn’t return to training until Thursday after traveling from Venezuela’s base in Miami. This means only one full day of work, and Benitez is known for not starting players who have gone away on international breaks due to not knowing the tactics that have been worked on throughout the week.

Add DeAndre Yedlin’s conundrum (the U.S defender played against Mexico on Tuesday) and the Newcastle manager has a few lineup headaches to deal with.

It’s not to say Arsenal doesn’t have similar problems, but Newcastle’s squad is not as deep. Joselu is the obvious replacement if Rondon doesn’t start, so there are choices, but the consensus would suggest that the Venezuelan is a bigger threat against the Gunners.

It's something to monitor.

3. The battle is in the midfield.

Newcastle waits for the return of Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie, as they both missed the last game against Man City (Shelvey also missed the Chelsea fixture) due to injury, and the hope is they come back and are fit, because the host's biggest problem right now is creativity. There has been a clear, cautious approach from the Magpies at the beginning of the season, and it's totally understandable given their tough schedule, but if there was a time to commit in the final third, it's now. Much of it especially depends on Shelvey, who acts as the architect of the midfield.

This is a key matchup in terms of possession.     

Last time they played, Arsenal controlled most of it with 80%, and it's natural to think this will be the same case on Saturday, but if the hosts can capitalize by pressing and feeding threats like Kenedy and Jacob Murphy or Ayoze Perez, then the chance to control the game is more realistic.

But Arsenal has a stronger midfield these days, and Newcastle needs all the help it can get.

Pick: Arsenal -115 ML

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)