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.
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.
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.
Even this late into the season, the good news keeps on coming for Newcastle, who had both Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson on the bench against Man City, while Ryan Fraser is back in training and could also make the squad this week. Jonjo Shelvey, Federico Fernandez, Jamal Lewis and former Arsenal duo Isaac Hayden and Joe Willock remain on the sidelines, and Howe must decide whether Trippier and Wilson are at a suitable level of fitness to feature from the first whistle yet. Trippier and Wilson replaced Emil Krafth and Chris Wood respectively after 68 minutes against Man City, so Howe may be willing to take a punt on the two players in a fixture he may very well deem as winnable.
While Newcastle’s treatment room is emptying, Arsenal defender Gabriel Magalhaes was withdrawn with a muscular problem against Tottenham, and his participation is currently up in the air. Arteta will already be without Kieran Tierney and Thomas Partey – as well as the suspended Holding – so Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White should form the centre-back pairing here, assuming that the latter is fit enough. Martinelli was also seen hobbling just before his 64th-minute substitution in the derby, and Arteta’s cautious approach could see Emile Smith Rowe instead given the nod on the left here.
The pressure is on as Arsenal have two games remaining to secure a Champions League place. The Gunners control their destiny. If they win both games they’ll finish in fourth place, but dropping points against Newcastle could cause issues. Tottenham have played one more game but they’re ahead by two points, so an Arsenal loss or draw at St. James’ Park would give the advantage to Spurs. Mikel Arteta will want to ensure that his side are focused despite the injuries that they’re dealing with.
Newcastle: Eddie Howe could have most of the squad available to him. Midfielders Jonjo Shelvy and Joe Willock won’t feature again this season but Ryan Fraser is back in training. As Miguel Almiron has performed well, Fraser may have to settle for a place on the bench but it will be good to have him available again. Wilson and Trippier will be ready for expanded roles after coming off of the bench during Newcastle’s loss to Manchester City and will likely start as the Magpies want to close out the season on a strong note.
Arsenal: Ben White should be recovered enough to feature after making the bench during the North London Derby. This will be a big boost to Arteta since Rob Holding is suspended while Gabriel is a doubt although he could recover in time to make the match. The lack of depth could see Takehiro Tomiyasu deputize at center back after featuring at both outside back positions since his own return from injury. Nuno Tavares will also be needed in a critical time after losing his starting role at left back due to poor performances if Gabriel can’t recover.