ARSENAL welcome Newcastle to The Emirates on Saturday. Matthew Kirby (@M_Kirby95) takes a closer look at what's expected to be an entertaining encounter.
Arsenal vs Newcastle | Saturday 27th November 2021, 12:30 | BT Sport
Arsenal’s three-game winning run in the Premier League ended abruptly at Liverpool last weekend. But Mikel Arteta’s side can get back into the winning habit against a Newcastle side still searching for their first victory of the season.
The Gunners made too many unforced errors, especially in the second half, and were ultimately picked apart by the likes of Diogo Jota and Mo Salah. Luckily for Arsenal’s defenders, they don’t have to face those forwards every week.
The Eddie Howe era at Newcastle started with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Brentford at St James’ Park – a sign of things to come. It’s straight from the defensive set-up of Steve Bruce to a more open and attack mind philosophy under the former Bournemouth manager.
However, the Magpies are winless and find themselves at the foot of the table after consecutive wins for Norwich has seen the Canaries climb above them. And with Howe will want to approach this game, there’s a good chance we’ll get to see some of the young Gunners flourish on the counter-attack.
The betting angles
Looking at a few of the markets, the bookies have cottoned on surrounding Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka shots. However, it’s not stopping me from an alternative angle focusing on the former.
Smith Rowe has had 16 shots in the Premier League this season, 10 hitting the target – an accuracy of around 63%, which is something you like to see when backing players to test the opposition keeper.
So, given the shortness in price around shots and shots on target, you can take it a step further and use the shots on target specials market. It’s 5/4 with Sky Bet that he has 1+ right-footed shots on target. Here’s why that looks like a reasonable play.
In general terms, 11 of his 16 shots (69%) have been with his right peg. While going even further, eight of his 10 shots on target (80%) have been right-footed. Just his efforts on target against Burnley and Chelsea came with his left foot.
With 80% of his shots on target coming from his right foot and a price at 5/4, which has an implied probability of 45%, then it looks worth taking considering he’s hit the target in 10 of Arsenal’s 12 league games this season, including in all six at the Emirates.
Before last weekend’s defeat at Liverpool, Smith Rowe had four goal involvements in three games (3 goals + 1 assist). It’s 5/2 that he finds the Newcastle net, which is something that made my shortlist.
The second bet I’ll take features a regular in a referee’s notebook – Matt Ritchie. Despite only committing 11 fouls this term, he’s already collected four yellows, so is one away from serving a one-match ban.
If you look closely at his disciplinary record, he’s picked his four cautions up in his last eight games. So, since the Leeds game in the middle of September, he’s averaging a card every other game.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. If he starts at left wing-back as expected, he’ll be up against Arsenal’s most fouled player in Bukayo Saka (27). The England international has pace to burn and could Ritchie plenty of problems.
Smith Rowe comes in next as the most fouled Arsenal player, so you could apply the same theory around Jacob Murphy – both of his cautions this season have been in away games. So, it could be a torrid lunchtime for the Newcastle wing-backs.
With Stuart Attwell in charge, you can generally expect cards. Although the Warwickshire official has only shown 25 yellows in eight league games – an average of 3.1 per game – he’s dished out 14 in three games on the continent.
That 3.1 per game is slightly lower than what I remember from him in recent seasons, but we do know from history that when the time calls for it, he’s not afraid to reach into his pocket and book players.
The best prices at the time of writing are Ritchie at 10/3 (Bet365) and Murphy at 13/2 (Sky Bet), but it’s the former that holds most appeal with four cards in his last eight apps and directly facing Arsenal’s most fouled player.