Arsenal face Newcastle United at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon, the Gunners having won just one of their last five Premier League games.
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s encounter:
It’s been a real turnaround in fortunes for Steve Bruce’s side who now look set for another season in the top-flight, having been right in the mix for relegation just a matter of weeks ago.
While they’ve no doubt been aided by the drop in form of 18th-placed Fulham, Newcastle have looked much improved in recent games, picking up two wins and two draws from their last four league meetings.
After back-to-back wins over Burnley and West Ham United, the Magpies then pulled off arguably one of their biggest results of the season at Anfield, snatching a point at the death to leave them nine points clear of the drop to all but secure their safety.
Newcastle had fallen behind early on through a stunning Mo Salah finish, yet after riding their luck somewhat, they struck a blow to their opponents top four hopes late on, bouncing back from a disallowed stoppage-time Callum Wilson strike to net an equaliser in the dying seconds through substitute Joe Willock.
The on-loan Arsenal man is now developing a bit of a reputation as something of a ‘super-sub’, after netting vital late goals against Tottenham, West Ham and the Reds in recent weeks, sparking speculation that the club may look to pluck him on a permanent deal in the summer.
Unfortunately for Bruce and co, the young midfielder won’t be available to face his parent club, although striker Wilson should be fit enough to earn a recall to the starting lineup.
Just when it feels as if the Gunners have started to turn a corner under Mikel Arteta, they seem to come off the boil, their superb 4-0 win over Slavia Prague in the Europa League having been followed up by two poor results in the league against both Fulham and Everton.
After having just about scraped a point against the Cottagers at the Emirates, Arteta’s men then slipped to their 13th league defeat of the season at home to the Toffees, a Bernd Leno howler gifting Carlo Ancelotti’s side the victory, albeit after the home side had had a penalty overturned for an incredibly tight offside call on Nicolas Pepe.
That result came after a week of real turmoil at the club regarding their involvement in the ultimately failed European Super League proposal, owner Stan Kroenke now under intense scrutiny from the Arsenal support for his role in the breakaway fiasco, as well as his perceived lack of interest in the club.
Following fan protests outside the Emirates prior to the defeat to Everton, Spotify owner Daniel Ek tweeted his intention to buy the club, with rumours this week that the Swedish billionaire is working alongside a selection of Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ to try and takeover the club, despite the current owners remaining unwilling to sell.
As for performances on the pitch, the Gunners have left themselves with plenty to do to reach the Europa League final after a 2-1 first-leg defeat to Unai Emery’s Villarreal on Thursday night, Arteta’s men conceding two early goals and losing Dani Ceballos to a red card, before snatching a potentially pivotal away goal from Pepe to give them hope of progression.
That dramatic encounter saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang make a return to the side from the bench, while David Luiz was also included in the matchday squad, although fellow forward Alexandre Lacazette was a notable absentee.
Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle, 18 January 2021
The two sides last meeting was a rather one-sided affair, as the Gunners coasted to victory following a strong second-half display.
The visitors had gone into the game off the back of a disappointing defeat to bottom side Sheffield United, yet held firm in the first-half, as the hosts struggled to really create anything of any real note.
That all changed just five minutes into the second period, however, as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ended his run of nine games without a goal to fire home at the near post, before Emile Smith Rowe teed up fellow youngster Bukayo Saka for a simple tap-in to make it two.
Mikel Arteta’s men then wrapped up all three points with 13 minutes to go, Aubameyang making it a brace from close range after fine work from former Southampton man Cedric Soares down the right.
Newcastle: Dubravka; Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie; Shelvey, Willock, Almiron; Wilson, Saint-Maximin.
Arsenal: Leno; Chambers, Holding, Mari, Xhaka; Partey, Ceballos; Saka, Smith Rowe, Pepe, Nketiah.
Who is the referee?
What channel is it on?
UK and Irish readers can watch the match on Sky Sports Premier League.
What time is kick off?
Sunday 2 May, 14:00 BST
Newcastle – 3/1
Arsenal – 10/11
Draw – 13/5
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Author: Robbie Walls
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