All eyes are on strikers as Arsenal and Newcastle United meet in a critical match for the top four race. Without Gabriel Jesus, Mikel Arteta has had to turn to Eddie Nketiah who responded in a big way with a hat trick against Sheffield United last time out in the Premier League, while Eddie Howe has utilized a mix of Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak. Neither forward combination has reached peak potential, but all signs show that they’re moving in the right direction in the race for Champions League soccer next season.
Jesus and Nketiah have combined for six Premier League goals this season while Wilson and Isak have been one of the most prolific striker duos in the league scoring 13 goals between them. Even with Wilson also missing time due to injuries, Eddie Howe’s attack funneling the ball to his two star strikers has made a difference. It’s in contrast to Arsenal’s attack which looks to feed Bukayo Saka on the wing and let him create. For Newcastle, Wilson and Isak both have a non-penalty expected goals tally removing within the top ten in the league.
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The Magpies are the only team with two separate players that close to the top of the xG leaderboard, which is why they’re first in the league in non-penalty xG at 19.70 while Arsenal rank only 10th at 14.24, a number that would suggest that, given the similar defensive output of the two sides, Newcastle could be above the Gunners in the table if the bounces this season had gone differently. Of course, that’s not how the games have played out as Arsenal already have a seven-point lead on Newcastle with only 10 matches played.
Arsenal may not have as many high scoring matches as Howe’s Magpies, but where they excel is getting back into games to secure crucial points to stay ahead in the race from matches that a team without the experience of last year’s title run might let slip away. Collapsing after competing with Manchester City for the title is something that has hardened Arsenal’s young team to bear down when needed, and that’s something that Howe’s Newcastle still needs to learn.
In their first season in European competition since the 2012-13 season when they took part in Europa League, Howe and Newcastle are still figuring out how to defeat top Premier League sides. Their only losses this season have come at the hands of Manchester City and Liverpool, which is admirable, but Arsenal are undefeated as even when they trail a team like Chelsea, they’re able to come back to secure a point. Arteta has even bested City this season which is a mark of a true title contender.
Facing Arsenal will offer Newcastle a chance to get their season back on track as dropped points will only put the top four further out of reach. It’s a season that shows how thin margins are in the Premier League, but for the project of taking Newcastle to the Premier League title to come to fruition, just winning games that they’re expected to win won’t be enough, it’s about how they dig deep to pull more out of games against the big six.
With the match taking place at St. James’ Park, home support will be enough to push the Magpies to put up a result although just a point won’t be enough to push up the table. Score: Newcastle United 2, Arsenal 2
How to watch and odds
- Date: Saturday, Nov. 4 | Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
- Location: St. James’ Park — Newcastle upon Tyne
- TV: NBC | Live stream: fubo (try for free)
- Odds: Newcastle United +180; Draw +230; Arsenal +150