Arsenal vs Newcastle | Monday 18th January 2021, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Two teams that played in midweek clash at the Emirates and both will be looking to put in improved performances.
Arsenal were held to a goalless draw by Crystal Palace, but it was the Eagles had the better chances. James Tomkins’ header hit the bar while Christian Benteke forced Bernd Leno into a smart save. It was the seventh Premier League match this season where the Gunners have failed to score – the same number as they didn’t find the net in across the whole of last season – a worrying trend for Mikel Arteta.
Meanwhile, the pressure was heaped on Steve Bruce after his side fell to defeat at Sheffield United, handing the Blades their first win of the season. Ryan Fraser’s first-half red card didn’t help but it was a tepid performance devoid of any positivity or quality. That said, the penalty award was harsh in my book!
In his pre-match press conference for this one, Bruce admitted he “picked the wrong team”, while labelling some of the stick from the Toon Army as “personal from day one”. That’s some way to continue to alienate the fans with the style of football.
The betting angles
I’m going to get straight into the angles here. Backing Arsenal comes with a health warning, so as much as they should win this, Thursday’s performance is off-putting, as is the fact it was goalless between these two after 90 minutes in their recent FA Cup tie. They’ll get a large share of the ball once more, but what can they create?
Different sources give different expected goals (xG) figures. Understat recorded Arsenal at 0.37xG v Palace (0.71xG), while Infogol had them at 0.62xG compared to the Eagles’ 0.67xG.
That has to improve and a lot could be down to the absence of Kieran Tierney, who from left-back does help to cut out numerous chances for this Arsenal team. It could be a late fitness test to see if he takes part.
The first bet I’m taking is Arsenal in the corners handicap. -3 is priced at 20/21 with Boylesports.
Arsenal have taken 97 this season compared to Newcastle’s 65, which is the second-fewest in the league heading into this game week.
We know Newcastle will sit back and give Arsenal plenty of the ball – it’s just about the hosts breaking them down. Only Liverpool (264) have attempted more crosses (258) than the Gunners, so it’s about Arteta’s men getting wide and trying to get this Magpies defence facing their own goal.
On the crossing, Arteta has said: “If we do that more consistently we are going to score more goals.” Well, it’s yet to happen, Mikel!
What makes it a play is partly due to the territorial advantage the hosts are likely to have. With Newcastle’s low block, a lot of this will be played in their defensive third.
So far this term, Newcastle have lost the corner count in 13/17 top-flight games, including 7/8 in away games. In those away matches they’ve lost it, their opponents have taken 3+ corners in 6/8, while 4+ is 4/8, but with Arsenal having a stranglehold on this one, they should be racking up the corners.
Just some examples of Newcastle games this season can highlight why Arsenal -3 corners is the way to go. Man Utd won the corner count 7-0 at St James’ Park, while Liverpool won it 12-5 and even Fulham went there and took seven more corners than the Geordie outfit.
On their travels, Spurs had six more corners (10-4), while Southampton, Crystal Palace and Man City all won the corner count 7-3, seeing this bet cop.
Given what I’ve said above about Arsenal winning corners and the likelihood of set-pieces, I’ve debated with myself whether to play the odd-against price on Rob Holding to have a shot – and I am.
The Arsenal centre-half has had 10 shots in 14 league starts, while he also recorded one in his 45-minute appearance from off the bench against Wolves. He’s had at least one effort in six Premier League home games this season, and when you break down the sides he’s recorded efforts against, five of the eight are in the bottom half of the table.
On Monday night against Palace, he had two efforts, while in the home game against Burnley he hit three, so will provide the hosts with an aerial threat from balls into the Newcastle box.
Trawling back through the Magpies games and I think I’ve recorded 15 opposing centre-backs having an attempt against them. Southampton’s Jan Bednarek had two – both on target, while Harry Maguire had three for Man Utd, with two on target.
In more recent games, Wesley Fofana, John Stones and Tosin Adarabioyo have had efforts against Newcastle, so it’s an area that Arsenal could look to exploit, so I’ll take the 11/10 for a Holding shot because he’s proved himself to be a nuisance of late.
They’re the two punts, but I’m just going to point out that David Coote is the referee. He’s shown 34 yellows and two reds in his nine Premier League games so far, and he averages the most fouls per game at 26.3.
He took charge of Newcastle’s win over Burnley in October where he dished out five cards. Jamal Lewis and Joelinton were the two players in black-and-white stripes to enter his notebook.
Interestingly, he’s booked two Newcastle players in his each of his last three games in charge of them – Joelinton the only man to see a card on multiple occasions by him. A word of warning – he doesn’t like forwards using their arms for leverage, just ask Palace’s Christian Benteke.
Coote is quite an authoritarian in his style. No nonsense and quick to reach for his cards. Seven of his 12 domestic games have seen at least four cards, so that would be something to note, but the dynamic of this game might not play into him dishing them out.
So cards could be a way to go, I did consider under four goals, over 0 cards for Arsenal and over 0 cards for Newcastle, which is EVS on Bet365 – quite tempting, but I’ll stick with the two aforementioned bets.
Arsenal vs Newcastle – Arsenal -3 corner handicap (20/21 Boylesports)
Arsenal vs Newcastle – Rob Holding 1+ shot (11/10 Pokerstars)