The ghosts of St. James’ Park still haunt Mikel Arteta, and he’ll return to the Tyneside cauldron on Sunday afternoon in another must-win game at a critical point in the season.
Arsenal’s stuttering April combined with Man City’s brilliance means the Gunners have got to be perfect down the stretch for them to have any chance of lifting their first Premier League title in 19 years.
City’s lead at the top could be four points by the time Arsenal kick-off on Sunday.
The boss rang the changes for Tuesday’s victory over Chelsea, and it’ll be interesting to see how many will retain their place for the trip to top-four hopefuls Newcastle.
Predicted Arsenal XI vs Newcastle
Here’s the starting XI Arteta could pick for Sunday’s game.
Goalkeeper & Defenders
Aaron Ramsdale (GK) – Poor Rambo simply can’t keep a clean sheet at the moment. William Saliba’s injury has killed his Golden Glove chances.
Ben White (RB) – White would not have fancied a one-v-one duel with Allan Saint-Maximin, but the Frenchman’s likely absence means he’ll have to deal with a combination of the powerful Joelinton and wily Joe Willock.
Jakub Kiwior (CB) – After impressing on Tuesday night, Kiwior is a sure bet to retain his place in the team. This will be a serious test.
Gabriel (CB) – Gabriel was in the wars last time out, eventually succumbing at the death. Arteta has had doubts over his fitness for Sunday, but it’d be a surprise to not see him start.
Oleksandr Zinchenko (LB) – Zinchenko came under fire for his hand in Chelsea’s goal on Tuesday, and it’s fair to say it hasn’t exactly been the most prosperous period for the Ukrainian. Newcastle’s fierce press will test him on Sunday, but he’ll play a key role in Arsenal establishing any control.
Thomas Partey (DM) – Partey needed a breather in the week, and Jorginho impressed in his absence. However, I think Newcastle’s midfield power requires Partey’s presence. The Gunners could be overwhelmed otherwise.
Granit Xhaka (CM) – Again, Xhaka’s physicality will be key on Sunday against the Magpies’ engine room.
Martin Odegaard (CM) – After starring in the week, these are the games we need to see the skipper excelling in moving forward. It’s a massive game, and we need a similarly huge performance from Odegaard.
Bukayo Saka (RW) – I hate to say it, but I think fatigue has crept into Saka’s game at the backend of the season once again. Newcastle doubled and occasionally tripled up on the winger in the reverse fixture, but a more aggressive approach should grant Saka more freedom on Sunday.
Gabriel Jesus (ST) – The Brazilian returned to the scoresheet against Chelsea amid a fine performance. However, a tough test lies ahead with Newcastle boasting a pair of physical centre-halves that have the capacity to dominate should Arsenal fail to find their rhythm.
Gabriel Martinelli (LW) – Earned minutes off the bench in the week as Arteta rotated. Will almost certainly return to the fold at St. James’ Park.