Mark Lawrenson has been predicting what will happen when Newcastle play Arsenal on Saturday
Spanish managers Rafa Benitez and Unai Emery clashing for the first time in the Premier League.
This fixture has been a nightmare for Newcastle, until winning 2-1 in April, the Magpies had only won once at St James Park against Arsenal in the Premier League since 2000.
However, it has been a bit of a strange one because whilst Newcastle have not won and regularly lost, I struggle to remember many occasions when Arsenal have win comfortably on Tyneside.
Indeed, when checking the record books, Newcastle have only twice lost at home by more than one goal to Arsenal in the Premier League era, the majority of games either single goal defeats or draws.
Mark Lawrenson talks about Rafa getting stick for his defensive approach but says whatever happens the Newcastle fans are right behind him.
The BBC Sport pundit says that ‘Saturday will be no different’ in terms of the Newcastle manager’s approach.
However, there is a danger of trying to describe things too simplistically when it comes to the tactics.
Last season’s two games against Manchester City were a real extreme, with this season’s home game against Chelsea coming close in terms of being ultra-defensive, but against Chelsea it was partly to do with a number of key players missing for Benitez.
Those games though are nowhere near identical to say Spurs at home this season or indeed the Arsenal game at St James Park in April. Both of these matches did see Newcastle defending deep BUT when they did win back possession there was a willingness to get players forward in decent numbers
Even the game at the Etihad before the international break saw Newcastle still attacking when able to, rather than the all out defence of those other games
Newcastle have three 2-1 defeats this season against top six teams and could potentially have got something from any/all of them.
Mark Lawrenson has a feeling that the luck will change this time and he predicts that Newcastle will repeat their 2-1 win of April.
Let’s hope he is right for once..,
Mark Lawrenson talking to BBC Sport:
“Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has had some stick for the way he has been setting his teams up so defensively, although the Magpies fans are still very much on his side.
“Saturday will be no different – you know his focus will be as much on stopping Arsenal as it is on how his own team get forward.
“I just have a feeling it might work this time.
“Arsenal’s players are not the only ones who have been away on international duty of course, but this might be a good time for Newcastle to play them.
“Benitez’s side beat the Gunners at St James’ Park last season, to effectively ensure they stayed up, and I am going to go for the same result.
“Prediction is Newcastle United 2 Arsenal 1.”