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Opinion

Preferred Newcastle team v Arsenal at St James Park

6 months ago
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An upset on the cards with my preferred Newcastle team v Arsenal?

Looking at the past few games, there’s certainly one thing Newcastle have had that Arsenal haven’t – luck.

Arsenal have struggled in recent games and have had a lot of fixtures piling up around them as they try to make it into the Europa League final (only way for this “big six” member to get into next year’s European competition at this point).

In contrast, we’ve ridden our luck on a number of occasions, but are now four games unbeaten. Matches that most fans (myself included) expected to get very little from.

Hopefully these two trends continue on Sunday, as Arsenal will have had very limited preparation time, having played (and lost 2-1) away against Villarreal last night (29 April 2021)

The Arsenal focus will be very much on the need now to pull off a great performance at home against Villarreal this coming Thursday, just four days after their match on Tyneside.

In my opinion, they will be very much putting all of their eggs in the Europa League basket, making the last few league games of the season somewhat pointless for them, as they are firmly ensconced in mid-table, so just maybe Newcastle can take advantage?

Here’s my preferred Newcastle team v Arsenal for Sunday:

Goalkeeper: Dubravka

Just like always, a no-brainer, especially as Darlow is out after knee surgery.

Dubravka kept us in the game against Liverpool, ensuring they couldn’t gain an advantage and allowing us to grab that late, late equaliser.

Centre-backs: Dummett, Clark, Fernandez

Another selection that picks itself due to injuries.

I would like to see a bit more awareness from the centre-backs this time, as Clark and Fernandez have been caught napping on a few occasions in the past few matches.

I’d also like to see Schar make a return to the bench if available.

If he can be worked back to full fitness, I think a creative passer in the back line would be a great asset for the final few games and might well help erase the horrendous gaffes we saw last week.

Wing-backs: Ritchie and Murphy

Same again – why change what is working so well?

Murphy offers some great creativity down the right and his defending is improving rapidly, while Ritchie should have been given far more game time than he’s had previously this season, put that one down to office politics.

Midfield: Shelvey, Matty Longstaff, Almiron

Unfortunately, I can’t make my usual recommendation of starting Willock this time, since he’s ineligible.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Matty start over brother Sean this match, Sean Longstaff was quite poor in the Liverpool match, wasting a golden opportunity on goal at one end and presenting one to Liverpool with a shocking pass inside the penalty area pass at the other end.

Matty might offer something a bit different and could galvanise both brothers to better performances, let one know he doesn’t have a right to start every game and give the other a chance to win his way back.

I don’t even need to discuss Shelvey as he’ll start regardless of what I say. However, I think Almiron will cause problems in this one with his tireless running and harassing of some hopefully jaded Arsenal midfielders.

Attack: ASM and Wilson

It’s time they both started.

We have seen from Wilson’s sub appearances that he’s fit and ready, whilst ASM seems determined to prove he can destroy every defence he’s put up against now he’s back fit.

Looking at Arsenal’s patched up defence (Xhaka left-back anyone?) I can see ASM having a great game. Setting up opportunities in open play and / or winning plenty free-kicks in dangerous positions, also potentially getting someone sent off (Xhaka left-back anyone – again?)

Going to be optimistic with this one and say 3-1 to NUFC.

Let me know if I’m a naive optimist, or on the money, in the comments below.

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