Newcastle v Arsenal preview: Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie in contention for Magpies
Last Updated: 15/09/18 8:36am
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez could have midfielders Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie back for Saturday's Premier League clash with Arsenal.
The influential pair have been out with thigh and knee injuries respectively, but are in the squad for the Gunners' visit to St James' Park.
"These kind of weeks are very difficult because you have players coming back, so you have to check everyone and see how they feel," Benitez said.
"Players here, we have Shelvey and Ritchie training, so no big issues. Everybody was training with more or less problems, but we have to decide now who can play, who cannot.
"But both Ritchie and Shelvey are in the squad."
Arsenal, meanwhile, return to action at St James's Park following the international break, with Unai Emery's squad carrying no fresh injury concerns.
And the Spaniard is hopeful the club can now reap the benefit of Mesut Ozil's international retirement.
The 29-year-old retired from Germany duty under a cloud following their poor performance at the World Cup and politics within the camp.
He has been able to train with Arsenal throughout the recent international break and Emery feels he has enjoyed a rest from playing.
"The players have the habits to play in the international break, in important matches, defending their identity and when one player is finishing that, I think it is also good for them to focus only on their team," he said.
"The reason for Mesut is important for me also, this focus every day with us, a relaxing three days off at the weekend. Mesut, like other players, works very well here and also working the ties and also together to improve things. Mesut, I look at him with the focus totally here."
Newcastle midfielders Ritchie and Shelvey are back in training after respective thigh and knee injuries and may feature against Arsenal.
However, frontman Salomon Rondon and right-back DeAndre Yedlin could be rested after their late return from international duty.
Emery has no fresh injury concerns as he prepares to take his Arsenal side to the north east. Alex Iwobi missed the win at Cardiff before the international break through illness, but is now available, while those who travelled to represent their countries returned unscathed.
Laurent Koscielny (Achilles), Sead Kolasinac (knee), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (leg) and Carl Jenkinson (ankle) all remain absent.
- Newcastle's 2-1 victory in this exact fixture last season ended a 10-match losing run against Arsenal in the Premier League. The Magpies last won consecutive league games against the Gunners back in January 1996 (4 wins)
- Only against Everton (32) and West Ham (29) have Arsenal won more Premier League games than versus Newcastle United (26)
- Benitez has lost six times versus Arsenal in the Premier League; only against Chelsea and Man Utd (9 each) has he suffered more defeats. However, the Spaniard has won two of his last three against the Gunners in the competition (L1)
- Newcastle have lost all three of their Premier League matches against 'big six' opposition in 2018-19 by a 1-2 scoreline. o Arsenal have won two of their last three away Premier League games (L1), as many as in their previous 13 combined (W2 D3 L8). The Gunners haven't won consecutive away league games since May 2017
- Only Spurs (458.0 KM) have covered more distance in the first four Premier League games of this season than Arsenal (455.2 KM)
- Since beating Arsenal in April (2-1), Newcastle have picked up just one win in their last nine games in the Premier League (W1 D1 L7)
Arsenal always give you a chance, as shown against Cardiff. That tells you everything.
However, Newcastle can't be relied on to have a go against the big teams. They won't create a million chances against the Gunners and Arsenal will create plenty. Newcastle will sit back and Arsenal will break them down at some point.
PAUL PREDICTS: 1-2 (9/1 with Sky Bet)