Match preview: Arsenal cannot slip-up at Newcastle or title dream is over

By on May 5, 2023

gabriel martinelli arsenal

It’s a crucial weekend in the Premier League title race as Arsenal face a tough trip to St James’ Park to face Champions League chasing Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

We lead the way at the top of the table for much of the season but unfortunately we’ve stumbled at the final hurdle. A once eight-point advantage has evaporated following a nightmare run of four games without a win in April. Arsenal were in terrific form heading to Anfield on April 9th and looked to be cruising to a crucial win after taking an early 2-0 lead. However, Liverpool fought back to level things up at 2-2 and we were fortunate to leave Anfield with a point in the end.

We had the chance to get back to winning ways at the London Stadium but sadly we saw a repeat of the Liverpool game. Arsenal raced into a 2-0 lead only to gift West Ham a lifeline after conceding a penalty just before half-time. Bukayo Saka wasted a golden chance to make it 3-1 from the penalty spot and we were punished as the Hammers went straight up the other end to make it 2-2, so another two points were dropped.

Perhaps the most frustrating result came at home to Southampton. The league’s bottom club should have been no match for Arsenal but the disappointment of the previous two games weighed heavy on the players and we produced arguably our worst display of the season. Defensive mistakes allowed the Saints to hold a 3-1 lead with less than 10 minutes to go. Arsenal rallied to make it 3-3 with two quick fire goals and we had the chances to snatch a dramatic win but had to settle for a third consecutive draw.

Then came the disaster at the Etihad Stadium. Dubbed as a ‘title decider’ but the gulf in class between the two sides made it look more like top versus bottom. Arsenal slumped to a 4-1 loss to put the destiny of the title firmly in Man City’s hands. We got back on track with a 3-1 win over Chelsea on Tuesday night which put us temporarily back on top of the table, but City regained to spot with a comfortable win over West Ham the following day.

We now head to Newcastle sitting one point adrift of the Cityzens, but crucially they hold a game in hand and a far superior goal difference. We will probably be four points behind by the time we kick off as City are almost certain to beat Leeds at home on Saturday, so the pressure is going to be on Mikel Arteta’s men to respond at St James’ Park. Failure to collect all three points, and I fear our chances of winning our first title since 2004 will be over.

This is our toughest game remaining so if we can somehow come away with a win on Sunday, it would put the pressure back on City as they have some tricky away games left and the Champions League semi-final ties with Real Madrid to contend with. So while the Arsenal players will no doubt be disappointed to have relinquished their lead, we cannot give up hope now and must do all we can to beat Newcastle and keep the pressure on City.

However, it’s not going to be easy as the Magpies are an excellent side these days. They sit third in the table and are in excellent form. After thrashing Tottenham 6-1, they put four past Everton before beating Southampton 3-1 at the weekend. A win for Newcastle this weekend would almost guarantee they’ll be playing in the Champions League next season so they are going to be fighting for every ball.

How to watch

The game will be played at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon. Kick-off is 4.30pm. Arsenal have the best away fans in the league in my opinion with all games sold out, so there is virtually no chance you’ll get hold of a ticket via official channels. Your best bet would be to use a trustworthy reselling site like Seatsnet.com as they could have last minute tickets for sale. If you aren’t lucky enough to get a ticket for the away end, it’s worth trying to get a seat in the home support – although keep your head down if Arsenal score as the Geordies may not be the most welcoming bunch.

Failing that, you can always watch the game live as it happens on Sky Sports. The match will be broadcast on TV to subscribers – who can also watch the game via the Sky Go app or on laptop/desktop computers.

Injury updates

Unfortunately, Arsenal will once again be without the services of William Saliba. Arteta confirmed at his pre-match press conference today that Saliba still hasn’t resumed training as he continues to recover from a back injury that he sustained against Sporting Lisbon in March. It’s safe to say our title bid derailed the night Saliba got injured as we haven’t kept a clean sheet since and it coincided with our poor run of form.

Takehiro Tomiyasu’s injury the same night was unfortunate as well as he’s been sorely missed. The full-back won’t play again this season due to a knee injury while Mohamed Elneny is also facing several months out with a knee injury.

Arsenal have another major injury concern ahead of the Newcastle game after Gabriel Magalhaes limped off with an ankle problem against Chelsea. It doesn’t seem too serious but the Brazilian will need to be assessed before his availability is determined. It would be a nightmare if Gabriel is ruled out as it would mean Rob Holding would be recalled to start alongside Jacub Kiwior at the heart of defence.

Newcastle have a few injury concerns of their own as Jamaal Lascelles will miss the game with a calf injury while Emil Krafth is also out with a knee injury. Allan Saint-Maximin will face a late fitness test on a thigh injury while Sean Longstaff could return from an ankle knock.

Predicted score

Newcastle 1-2 Arsenal: This is almost a do-or-die situation for Arsenal – which was similar to last season when we needed to win at St James’ Park in the penultimate game to finish in fourth spot. We produced a horror show that day to gift Spurs Champions League football so let’s hope the players have learned from that performances and history won’t repeat itself.

Arsenal desperately need to put-in a top class display and we’ll probably need every player to be at his best to get the three points. Newcastle are a hugely dangerous side and they are well drilled under Eddie Howe. However, I’m backing the Gunners to snatch a vital win in the north east to keep our title dream alive.