The inane international break is over, and we can now look forward to proper football returning.
We travel to St James Park to take on Newcastle, who haven’t enjoyed the best start to their season, and are currently winless.
That only tells half the story though.
Rafa Benitez has overseen a horrible run of just one win in nine games, and on paper this is a great chance to pick up a valuable away win.
If we want to get a taste of how tough this game will be, we just need to look at their last game – a narrow 2-1 loss to Champions City. The toon were mightily unlucky not to grab a point in this game, and their defence is looking a darn sight tougher than our own.
With our defence, even a slightly toothless attack like Newcastle’s have a chance – as we will probably gift them opportunities like we have in every one of our games thus far. In fact, we are averaging an exact two goals conceded in every game.
We only have ourselves to blame as we struggle to adapt to Emery’s tactics, but Newcastle will look to hit on the break. If our midfield doesn’t track back, we could open the door for the home team.
Sead Kolasinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Laurent Koscielny are all ahead of schedule in their fight to start first team training, but are not close to making this game or the next few for that matter. Alex Iwobi is back for selection after missing our win over Cardiff with illness. The question is though, will Lacazette and Aubameyang start together again and strengthen their bond? Or will Emery play it safe for a hard away trip?
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez will be glad to have the services of Jonjo Shelvey again, and Matt Ritchie is also back. These two will likely represent the best chance the home team have of causing us problems, and they will be looking to feed Joselu, as Salomon Rondon only returned from international duty a few days ago.
This game could be a real banana skin for us. Jonjo Shelvey returning could inspire the Toon, and the last time we played them at St James Park we lost 2-1 back in October.
Benitez has set his team up to frustrate and the fact that Newcastle have the lowest number of passes this season is evidence of a teak-tough team.
We may need a better defensive presence than Granit Xhaka, so Lucas Torreira could come in and mark the England midfielder. Matteo Guendouzi could make way, but it isn’t in midfield that our fans will be looking at in team selection.
Will Auba and Laca start? Which one will drop?
If Emery is keeping things tight, then Iwobi could come straight in at the expense of one of our star strikers, with an option on the bench to change things should the game get ugly.
Either way, we will need our star men to shine if we are to leave St James Park with the points and continue our recovery.
Predicted Lineup – Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal, Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette
Predicted Scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal