To take on Newcastle at St. James’ Park is not ideal for Arsenal right now, as the team are still reeling from their dismal Carabao Cup exit.
Our 3-1 surrender to West Ham on Wednesday strongly contrasts with the Magpies’ epic midweek win over Manchester United, and the feel-good factor that is sweeping through Tyneside will make Saturday a particularly daunting clash.
However, Mikel Arteta can take heart from an unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign and will remind his men of their success in this fixture last season, while mounting injury problems could yet hurt the home side’s cause.
Newcastle United vs Arsenal: 3 key battles that may decide epic Tyneside clash
The boss himself considers Newcastle among the “toughest places to go and win”, but here are three key battles that might help us do just that.
1. Takehiro Tomiyasu vs Miguel Almiron
At least we will have the upper hand in any aerial contest.
After spending much of his Arsenal career on the periphery/injured, Tomiyasu is finally getting regular game-time again and has the defensive skillset to oust Oleksandr Zinchenko from our first XI.
His superior backline work may prove invaluable here as Newcastle often play the ball into the channels for Miguel Almiron to chase, while the Paraguay star’s energy when pressing high up can only be neutralised via technical security and a calm head- two of Tomiyasu’s best qualities.
However, ‘Tomi’ will need to be mindful of the rotation between Almiron and Kieran Trippier, as the former’s decoy runs could easily drag him in-field and leave Trippier space to launch crosses into the box. But our man is always clear-headed and has the positional awareness to make life difficult for the Toon attack, with his ability to exploit gaps in the press even likely to cause issues at the other end.
Composure is vital to survive in such a difficult environment. Few match that description better than Tomiyasu.
Continues on the next slide…