Arsenal will seek to continue on their two-match winning run in the Premier League when they contest Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Saturday. The north London side had begun the season in a poor fashion with successive defeats to Manchester City and Chelsea but they have since found some momentum with hard-fought wins over West Ham United and Cardiff City – both of whom are lying at the tailend of the standings.
Petr Cech has been the Gunners’ first-choice for the shot-stopper’s role and that may unlikely change this weekend. Unai Emery has previously refused to criticise the veteran for his jittery moments between the sticks and this suggests that the Czech should maintain his position for the Tyneside trip.
In the backline, Emery has got with the settled combination of Hector Bellerin, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulous and Nacho Monreal in the previous league games and that is unlikely to change. Skipper and centre-back Laurent Koscielny may have returned to training but he has an extended route to return to the starting XI after recovering from a long-term Achilles problem.
Onto the midfield, Mateo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka have been Emery’s standard picks in the centre of the park since the league opener but we are anticipating a single change with the former making way for fellow summer signing Lucas Torreira. Guendouzi has certainly impressed with his passing attributes but Torreira brings more to the fray in terms of the defensive side of his game which would be required to tackle the physical presence brought about by the Magpies.
Further forward, Emery may not consider any changes after the impressive attacking performance at Cardiff. Aaron Ramsey should take up his newly-defined number 10 role with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mesut Ozil flanking him on either side whilst Alexandre Lacazette should start upfront for the second game on the bounce.
Emery resisted the prospect of playing both Aubameyang and Lacazette from the off in the opening three matches but the decision to do that against Cardiff paid dividends with both marksmen finding the scoresheet. The latter in particular has been impressive with his workrate and his link-up play alongside Aubameyang may prove influential to breaching the Magpies backline, which has adopted an ultra-defensive approach this term.
Image – Getty