Arsenal to see off Newcastle in thriller

The Emirates Stadium will be the venue for Saturday's lunchtime kick-off in the Barclays Premier League. Arsenal were eventually outclassed by Liverpool in their last fixture, but there were a number of positives to take from the 4-0 defeat, despite the margin. Visitors Newcastle United will be without new boss Eddie Howe after the former AFC Bournemouth manager tested positive for Covid. The Magpies took a share of the spoils in a six-goal thriller at home to Brentford last time out, and the combination of more intense pressing and positive stance can't hide their deeply deficient defence. Read our preview here:

Not Lac-ing suitors

Having started over Kieran Tierney on merit, left-back Nuno Tavares had a predictably torrid time against the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Mo Salah last weekend, and whilst it's reasonable to suggest neither Joelinton nor Jacob Murphy represent the same level of challenge, the wider areas of defence looked to be a big problem for Mikel Arteta once more on Saturday. Takehiro Tomiyasu also had his worst game in a red shirt, and he will have to contend with the dangerous Allan Saint-Maximin. There are still other issues to rectify in the squad, especially with the winter transfer window little over a month away. The Gunners still lack a truly convincing double pivot in midfield, and are far too reliant on Thomas Partey to move through the gears. This is an area the visitors could exploit, all whilst forward Alexandre Lacazatte's name continues to be circulated to prospective buyers. The 30 year old's contract is up at the end of the current campaign, and there's the usual dilemma of whether his current club should seek to get a fee and have to replace him mid-season, or identify more amenable and affordable targets in the summer. Elsewhere, Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka will push high to support Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and they will all have to be extremely well marshalled to reduce the hosts' chances from open play.

The size of this Dúb

Assistant Jason Tindall is likely to be issuing the instructions from the away dugout in north London, but the overall strategy will remain Howe's. The St. James Park faithful have already seen some seeds of hope in the move away from a defensive posture under Steve Bruce that did nothing to hide their obvious weaknesses at the expense of crippling their efficacy in attack. One likely change will be between the sticks - Karl Darlow hasn't covered himself in glory (especially against the Bees), and Slovakian #1 Martin Dúbravka is a more commanding presence. His accuracy from long kicks ought to dovetail well with the new emphasis of taking the game to the opposition - Callum Wilson will be far better supported than previously in a black and white jersey. Fabian Schär is a doubt for the fixture, and his absence might precipitate a change to a four-man defence.

Charge of the black and white brigade

The main aim for Howe between now and January ought to be keeping the gap between themselves and safety to as few points as possible. Most pundits agree that there are actually a number of more than talented enough individuals to preserve their top tier status already at the club, but it's obvious that the quickest path to maintaining that is a recruitment drive in their own defensive third. Their forward options, especially if he can get a tune out of Joelinton, are of a sufficient standard already. Arsenal, not without their own problems, won't go easy on Newcastle on Saturday, and odds of 2.88 with Parimatch for both teams to score and a home win look favourable.

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