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by Bulldog Drummond
As ever we take a look at how to protagonists in the forthcoming game are doing in relation to where this game is to be played. But on this occasion, the home and away tables show a remarkable similarity. Newcastle are ahead of Arsenal on a points-per-game basis and in terms of goal difference, but the points-per-game difference is very slight: 2.1875 for Newcastle and 2.1176 for Arsenal. Newcastle are +5 ahead in terms of goal difference.
|Team / venue||P||W||D||L||F||A||GD||Pts|
|Newcastle United home||16||10||5||1||32||11||21||35|
Arsenal are still the best away team in the league, across the whole season, while Newcastle are the fifth best home team in the league.
But the situation over the last six games is much more worrying for Arsenal…
Yes indeed, over the past six games Arsenal are doing worse than Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Wolverhampton. Not a good place to be. The last ten however does look a little less daunting…
Newcastle are of course the team that above all others this season started poorly but improved. After six games they were 11th in the league and had won just one match. But there is one table that can bring us a little more hope, and that is one which compares Newcastle’s last six home games with Arsenal’s last six away games…
Arsenal are still not above Newcastle but at least the gap is narrower.
If you are a regular reader you might recall we have been building up the case that most teams that challenge near the top of the league suffer from a certain number of dips during the season in which results go wrong for a while (we went into this in some detail before the Manchester City game). What determines their outcome is, as much as anything, how long those dips in form last – and how many there are.
Newcastle suffered one such at the start of the season in which they went through seven games with only one win (and that was a league cup win against Tranmere). Their only other dip in form came with five games between 4 February and 4 March in which they drew two and low three, one of those defeats being in the league cup. The draws were against West Ham United and Bournemouth.
Arsenal had one such drop in form in January/February with three defeats and two draws (one of the defeats being in the FA Cup) and the other with three draws and a defeat.
Now what was interesting is that in that recent bad run Arsenal did keep scoring goals, and indeed in the last seven league games Arsenal have scored 19 goals – a rate of 2.71 per game which is higher than the Arsenal record across the whole season (2.38). And that is encouraging because Arsenal have scored 20 more goals this season than Newcastle have.
So yes in recent matches reflected in the last six games Arsenal are only 10th, but if we return to that table and look at the goals scored, Arsenal have the second-highest number of goals. Pointing to what I guess we all know – that without Saliba the defence is not nearly as solid as it is with Saliba.
And now to make matters even more troublesome Gabriel Magalhães is reported as doubtful for the game. Newcastle have five players out, Jamaal Lascelles and Emil Krafth are definitely out, while Allan Saint-Maximin and Sean Longstaff are rated as 50/50 according to EPL injury table.