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Preview: Newcastle United vs. Arsenal - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Premier League fixture between Newcastle United and Arsenal, including predictions, team news and head-to-head records.

Arsenal kick off their 2019-20 Premier League season away from home as they travel to St James' Park to face Newcastle United on Sunday afternoon.

New Magpies boss Steve Bruce faces a tough start in an already uphill battle as he contends with a significantly strengthened Gunners side looking to return to the Champions League in his first competitive game in charge of his boyhood club.


Steve Bruce in charge of Newcastle United on July 27, 2019© Reuters

Newcastle recorded a 13th-placed Premier League finish last season under decorated manager Rafael Benitez but are tipped to be among the relegation candidates this term.

The Spaniard's departure to Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang was a major blow for the fans, and to add insult to injury he also took reigning Newcastle player of the year Salomon Rondon with him after his loan move from West Bromwich Albion was not made permanent.

In addition, the sale of fellow star Ayoze Perez to Leicester City was sanctioned, along with the more welcome departures of Joselu and Mohamed Diame.

However, the club have been relatively busy this summer, investing in the likes of club-record signing Joelinton, skillful dribbler Allan Saint-Maximin and former striker Andy Carroll in the forward department, while adding Emil Krafth and loaning in Jetro Willems to boost their full-back options.

Newcastle's pre-season has been a mixed bag of results - the Magpies suffered a 4-0 battering by fellow Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers in their opening game and also slumped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Championship side Preston North End, but did claim victories over West Ham United, Hibernian and Saint-Etienne.

Bruce has a poor personal record against Arsenal, having lost 19 games against them - the most against a single opponent in his career - and has claimed just two wins from 27 meetings, the most recent of which was in 2009.

Additionally, Newcastle have failed to win an opening-day fixture in any of the last six seasons since beating the Gunners' bitter local rivals Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in 2012.

Recent form: LWLWW


Dani Ceballos in action for Arsenal on July 28, 2019© Reuters

Arsenal will be looking for a strong start to the campaign to match their excellent summer transfer window.

Unai Emery has seen the club buy a total of six players - although French centre-back William Saliba has been loaned back to Saint-Etienne for this season.

The Spaniard will, however, have the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Martinelli and David Luiz at his disposal as he looks to go one better than last season, in which Arsenal missed out on Champions League football in disappointing fashion, finishing fifth in the Premier League and losing in the Europa League final.

The club also oversaw a raft of departures as the squad was trimmed, with Alex Iwobi, Laurent Koscielny, Carl Jenkinson, David Ospina and Krystian Bielik among the names to be sold, whilst Aaron Ramsey, Petr Cech, Danny Welbeck and Stephan Lichtsteiner were all allowed to leave for free.

The Gunners' pre-season campaign has also produced a mixture of highs and lows, with young players starring in the 3-0 wins over Colorado Rapids and Fiorentina, while the senior side beat a strong Bayern Munich outfit 2-1.

However, their defensive frailties were exposed in the defeats to Lyon and Barcelona, as well as the penalty shootout loss against Real Madrid, with Arsenal having led in each of those three games.

Emery's side have a poor record on opening day, having lost four of their last six such fixtures despite having played at home on the first day in the last eight Premier League seasons.

Recent form: WWLLWL

Team News

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates Arsenal's opening goal in their Europa League tie with Qarabag FK on December 13, 2018© Reuters

Newcastle will be without right-back DeAndre Yedlin as he continues his recovery following a groin operation, while new signing Carroll is not yet ready for selection.

Bruce will be able to call on the club's record signing Joelinton, however, and the Magpies boss is expected to use him from the start in what looks to be a difficult fixture for the Magpies.

Arsenal find themselves contending with several injuries already, with new signing Tierney joining Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding and Konstantinos Mavropanos on the treatment table.

Emery is also without Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac due to worryingly fresh concerns over their safety in the wake of a failed carjacking a fortnight ago.

Alexandre Lacazette has an ankle problem and will be assessed, as well as record signing Pepe and Mohamed Elneny, who are working their way back to match sharpness following an extended break after their Africa Cup of Nations duties.

As a result, Emery could afford a start to one of Arsenal's talented young wide-men in Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka or even Martinelli, while midfielder Joe Willock will be pushing for a start after his eye-catching performances in pre-season.

Newcastle United possible starting lineup:
Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Hayden, Longstaff, Almiron; Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

Arsenal possible starting lineup:
Leno; Maitland-Niles, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal; Xhaka, Willock; Mkhitaryan, Smith Rowe, Nelson; Aubameyang

Head To Head

Arsenal have a great recent record against Newcastle, winning 12 of their last 13 meetings with them, keeping seven clean sheets in the process.

Newcastle, meanwhile, have struggled to cope with the Gunners' attack, having only kept Arsenal off the scoresheet twice since 2007.

In fact, the Magpies have only claimed three victories against Arsenal in their last 36 meetings over 17 years.

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We say: Newcastle United 1-2 Arsenal

Arsenal's leaky defence is still a problem and the Gunners may well concede away from home in this opening-day fixture, but even with the potential absences of Lacazette and Pepe, Newcastle will still struggle to contain Aubameyang and co. in attack.

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