After a tumultuous summer at St James’ Park, Newcastle United finally kick off their Premier League season at home to Arsenal under the new management of Steve Bruce.
Both clubs however broke their record transfers with the signings of Joelinton and Nicolas Pepe respectively, and will be looking to improve on their finishes from last season.
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Newcastle will be without DeAndre Yedlin as he continues to recover from groin surgery.
Matt Ritchie is however set to be fit after overcoming a hamstring injury picked up in pre-season, whilst new signing – Andy Carroll remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
Dwight Gayle is a doubt with a calf strain meaning that record signing, Joelinton could make his first competitive start as Florian Lejeune (knee) and Jack Colback (hamstring) miss out.
Arsenal could see their record signing, Nicolas Pepe start whilst Alexandre Lacazette is likely to start after recovering from an ankle injury but both face late fitness tests.
Dani Ceballos (knock) and Mohamed Elneny (fitness) are also doubts whilst Rob Holding (fitness) is ruled out alongside Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasanic who both miss out for security reasons.
Emile Smith-Rowe, Konstantinos Mavropanos (both groin), Kieran Tierney (hernia) and Hector Bellerin (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) are also absent for the Gunners, although David Luiz is fit and available to start after signing from Chelsea on Deadline Day.
Newcastle enjoyed a solid pre-season with three wins from five friendlies, including a 1-0 victory over West Ham to earn Bronze at the 2019 Premier League Asia Trophy but just two of their seven pre-season goals came after half-time.
Arsenal meanwhile had a busy pre-season with eight friendlies but scored in every fixture, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang joint top scorer alongside Eddie Nketiah who has now gone out on loan to Leeds.
- Newcastle have won just one of their last 13 meetings with Arsenal (W1, L12).
- Two of their last three meetings here were won by 2-1 to the winning team.
- Alexandre Lacazette has scored two of Arsenal’s last five goals against Newcastle.
- Steve Bruce is facing Arsenal for the 28th time as a manager, more than any other opposition but has won on just two occasions (W2, D6, L19).
- Newcastle is facing North London opposition at home on the opening weekend for a third consecutive season, having lost their last two openers to Tottenham by 4-1 aggregate.
- This is Arsenal’s first opening weekend away fixture since August 2011, which also coincidentally was against Newcastle at St James’ Park when they played out a goalless draw.
- Since that meeting, the Gunners have taken just seven points (W2, D1, L4) out of their last seven league openers.
After smashing their transfer records this summer, victory here is crucial for Newcastle and Arsenal because the Magpies need to make that step forward after two middling seasons whilst the Gunners need to rediscover their top four challenging mojo.
I am therefore expecting goals given Arsenal’s unpredictable defending but Unai Emery’s Gooners should have too much quality for Newcastle to handle.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal
Result: Newcastle United 0-1 Arsenal