This Tuesday at 20:45, Arsenal (1st) and Newcastle (3rd) will face each other at the Emirates Stadium. A clash between two Premier League teams that have struggled for a long time in recent years to reach the top positions in the championship.
At the start of the season, few punters would have bet on Arsenal leading the Premier League, let alone imagine Newcastle being third in the table at this stage of the season. Yet it is these two teams who are giving Manchester City the run-up to the title. With Liverpool sixth in poor shape, the Gunners and Magpies have a shot at the title. Opponents this Tuesday at 20:45, these two teams have long experienced difficulties but today they stand out as two of the most attractive formations.
Arsenal, a long quest for renewal
In recent years, Arsenal have eaten their black bread. Wenger’s departure in 2018, after 22 years in charge of the team, a Scudetto in 2004 and a Champions League final loss to Barça in 2006, marked the end of an era. But the magic was running out. The managers therefore decided to launch a new cycle, to bring the club back to the top. It was Unaï Emery who first took charge of the team in 2018. Under his orders, the Gunners played in the Europa League final but the manager failed to lift Arsenal back to the top of the Premier League.
Arteta’s hard work is finally paying off
To achieve this, the leaders bet on a former member of the house: Mikel Arteta. The first months are tough, the confirmation of more promising beginnings is slow in coming. Close to the exit, disputed by a large fringe of fans, Arteta confirms himself in his functions and grabs a 5th place synonymous with the Europa League. The next transfer window is vital to keep up this momentum, it’s an opportunity to see nationals Gabriel Jesus and Oleksandr Zinchenko land. Author of a good season on loan at Marseille, William Saliba returns to London and finally has a chance. Arteta will not regret it.
The Gunners are off to a flying start with five straight Premier League victories. Despite an early setback against Manchester United, Arsenal didn’t dive in and resumed their good run in the league. Apart from a draw against Southampton, Arteta’s side have won all their matches. Thanks to the good plays lined up, Arsenal lead the table with 43 points. Led by Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka, goalscorers in the last game against Brighton (2-4), the Gunners have regained their superb for the first time since Wenger’s great years.
Newcastle are currently third and just two points behind second-placed Manchester City. Last season, hardly anyone could have foreseen such a scenario. Now it seems a long time ago when Steve Bruce was at the helm of the club and appeared to lead the club straight into the English second division. It happened last season, but one event or rather two radically changed the fate of the Magpies.
In October, Newcastle are 19th and are bought by the public investment fund of Saudi Arabia. Quickly, Steve Bruce was fired. Eddie Howe replaces him. At first, the choice of coach went through questions from Burnley and Bournemouth. Given the huge financial resources of the property and the urgency of results, Howe did not necessarily represent the right profile in the imagination of the fans. But even in this case, time will prove the leaders right.
Recruited during the previous winter transfer window, Bruno Guimaraes, Kierran Trippier and Chris Wood bring added value to the squad. Result of the races, Howe’s Newcastle ended the season 11th and can have high hopes for the future.
An unlikely title fight
On the clock this season, Newcastle have suffered just one setback against Liverppol in August. Since then, the Magpies have had four draws and eight wins. An impressive record for a team that played maintenance not too long ago. It is with full confidence that Howe’s men move to London.
“They are a very good team. They train very well. I think what Eddie has done in such a short time, you look at the numbers, it’s incredible (…) We can’t wait to be there” lauded Mikel Arteta
For his part, the Magpies coach doesn’t want to put pressure on his players and wants them to measure their chances of reaching that high in the table: “Players shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by expectations or emotions of what kind. where we are and enjoy every second of it, as long as they stick together and give it their all to keep delivering consistent results.”
Led by an excellent Almiron scorer of nine league goals, Newcastle have the opportunity to confirm their fight in the race for the Champions League and even the title. While the Gunners can get closer to their dream of winning a new championship, the last one dating back to 2004.