Poor Newcastle United have been dealt a rotten hand to start their season: Tottenham, Chelsea, Man City and now Arsenal in their first five matches is a nightmare start, and although they only have a point against Cardiff to show for their troubles, their performances have not been as bad as their points tally suggests.
The Magpies suffered 2-1 defeats to all of the big boys this season, and the much-maligned ultra-defensive tactics of Rafa Benitez are almost paying dividends; they have been competitive in every match, which should give hope to Newcastle fans for the arrival of Arsenal.
The Gunners have flattered to deceive so far under Unai Emery; they beat a poor West Ham team and were a little fortunate to beat Cardiff, but their defensive frailties are absolutely glaring. Emery’s insistence on playing Petr Cech and forcing him to play out from the back is borderline cruelty, although it makes watching Arsenal tremendously entertaining.
Emery also cannot seem to decide what his best midfield is, but I suspect one containing Granit Xhaka probably isn’t the answer.
I actually fancy Newcastle here – well, more likely I fancy Arsenal not to win – as the signs they have showed this season, particularly defensively, have been encouraging. The fact that they have scored in every game - apart from at Cardiff, where it would have really mattered - will please Benitez.
As for Arsenal, I don’t rate them much; I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they finished outside the top six. They are good in the final third, but that won’t cut the mustard too often away from home (as they showed last season). For that reason, I’m backing a Newcastle win or draw.
I can’t believe I’m about to do this, as I’ve been a relatively vocal critic of his, but I’m backing Joselu to score at any time.
The Spaniard mustered a poultry four goals over the whole of last season, yet has scored twice already this campaign – including a sumptuous header against Chelsea.
It’s a toss-up as to whether he or Salomon Rondon will start, but either way he will probably find joy against this Arsenal defence. The value for this bet is also great.
If you fancy a longer shot for this match, and not just the double chance I tipped earlier, then consider backing a 2-1 Newcastle win.
It’s hard to envisage either side keeping a clean sheet here, and with their home advantage, I genuinely believe Newcastle have the edge – particularly because Arsenal won just four times on the road last season.
Their narrow home defeats to Spurs and Chelsea showed plenty of promise, and both of those sides are on a different level to Arsenal.
$15* is insane value for a 2-1 Newcastle win, and I have a sneaky feeling it’ll come through.>