ARSENAL host Newcastle on Super Sunday. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) delivers his betting analysis.
Arsenal v Newcastle | Sunday 16th February 2020, 16:30 | Sky Sports
After utilising their winter breaks to take in warmer climes, Arsenal and Newcastle return to the bread and butter of the Premier League.
Mikel Arteta took his side to Dubai for a training camp, while Newcastle headed to Marbella after coming through their FA Cup replay, in extra-time, against Oxford.
As Steve Bruce has a long injury list, he could give debuts to January signings Danny Rose and Valentino Lazaro, as the Magpies look to climb above their opponents.
Arsenal odds prohibitive
Seeing Arsenal at 4/9 makes me wince. Seven league games under Arteta and it’s just one win. The Gunners have drawn five of those, but were lucky to leave Burnley with a point after Jay Rodriguez fired against the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
Given the firepower Arsenal have, it was a surprise to see them rank 15th for shots on target with Newcastle sitting 16th. These sides average 3.8 and 3.3 shots on target per-game.
Despite a lack of shots testing the opposition keeper, both sides do allow opportunities. Newcastle concede just shy of 16 shots per-game, which is the second-worst, while Arsenal give away 15 per match– fifth-most.
The Expected Goals (xG) doesn’t paint too pretty a picture for either side. Arsenal sit 13th at 32.43xG and Newcastle rank bottom with 20.37xG. In 12 away games, the Magpies see their figure reduce to 8.06xG. No wonder Joelinton has struggled to adapt to life on the Toon.
So with all that in mind, it could be worth looking towards a low goal count. Five of the seven games under Arteta have seen two or fewer goals, so given how we expect Newcastle to set up, then Under 2.5 Goals (6/5) looks an interesting price with Betfair and this is starting to be trimmed elsewhere.
Of the last seven Premier League meetings between the sides, five have seen Under 2.5 Goals, with Arsenal winning four of those games 1-0, so there’s a chance of backing the hosts to win by a goal at 14/5 with SportNation.
Newcastle to sit deep
This won’t surprise anyone given everything we know about Bruce as a pragmatic manager. The injuries haven’t helped his side, but they have managed to get results playing this 5-4-1 system.
They will have to do a lot of defending here and when in possession, they’ll have to use it wisely with Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron the pair likely to lead the counter charge.
With this expected set-up from the visitors, it gives two options. Backing their players to complete tackles or back Arsenal players in the passing markets.
In terms of possession, Arsenal average just under 54% per game compared to Newcastle’s league-low of 39%.
Only three Arsenal players have surpassed 1,000 passes this season – Granit Xhaka, David Luiz and Matteo Guendouzi. It’s the latter that holds the best completion rate at 88.2% – it’s 19/20 for 90+ passes with Coral, which he’s only done once this season.
Hector Bellerin has only featured five times this season, but in each of those, he has attempted 40+ passes. The fact that Coral open up at 70+ passes at 17/20 is somewhat off-putting.
When you look at how similar sides have coped against Newcastle, then it does look a high bar. Both Chelsea full-backs attempted 63 passes at St James’s Park, while Everton’s Djibril Sidibe attempted 67 to Lucas Digne’s 51.
Isaac Hayden leads the way in the tackles for the Geordies but look at the surprise name in second – Miguel Almiron.
In this 5-4-1, he has plenty of protective work to do and here the Paraguayan could be up against Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Bakayo Saka.
So far this term, he has completed 41 tackles and in their last Premier League outing, he managed three against struggling Norwich to show his capabilities. Looking closely at the traditional top six and current top six shows some appealing figures.
It was five away at Wolves, four against both Manchester clubs and four up against Crystal Palace with Zaha in their ranks. It’s 1/2 for 2+ tackles, but the 3+ at 8/5 with Coral holds plenty of interest given the pattern this game should take.
With him likely to have to play deep and win those tackles, then he’s going to have to get stuck in. The 5/1 for a card could be a big price considering his four cards this season have come against sides that do have flair players in wide areas.
In the reverse fixture on the opening day, Almiron was cautioned. Although he gets carded on average every 510 minutes, the frustration of the lack of forays forward could get the better of him.
However, I’ll stick with Almiron tackles in a low-scoring contest to round up Super Sunday.