Newcastle vs Arsenal | Monday 16th 2022, 20:00 | Sky Sports
Monday Night Football takes us to the North East and the final game of the season at what will undoubtedly be a rocking St. James Park.
Newcastle have just suffered back-to-back losses but in mitigation those games were against the unstoppable forces of Liverpool and Manchester City – who are coincidentally the only two away sides to have returned home with three points after visiting on Eddie Howe’s watch since he took over from Steve Bruce in November.
Prior to the 1-0 defeat to the Reds in their last home game, the Magpies had put a run of six successive wins together in front of their own fans, scoring ten times whilst conceding just three and in the 12 games since Howe’s first home game in charge against Brentford, the league leaders are the only away side to have scored more than once and the EPL top two are also the only sides to have been able to keep a clean sheet here.
Despite the 5-0 scoreline, Newcastle did have chances against the champions last weekend, Chris Wood planting a free header tamely in to the hands of Ederson after just eight minutes with the game still scoreless, the same player having what would have been an equalising goal disallowed for an offside prior to his final touch and the returning Callum Wilson having his rusty attempt saved when clean through as his side trailed 3-0.
I am sure Eddie Howe will be keen to get back to winning ways here to end the season with some positive momentum ahead of what will be an eagerly anticipated transfer window for the Geordie faithful and despite the primary objective of safety being long since achieved there will be players with a point to prove that they can still be a part of what promises to be an exciting new era for the club, as a result I don’t think the flip flops are out just yet.
Only three sides have picked up more than Newcastle’s 32 points in 2022, with Spurs’ 35 coming from two more games played – while opponents Arsenal have also had a very strong calendar year so far collecting just one point fewer than their hosts.
On that data alone this should be a fairly close fought encounter so, even taking in to account the “nothing to play for” factor, seeing the home side available at 17/5 certainly caught my eye.
The Gunners imploded in the North London derby on Thursday, not only having their four-game winning run ended comprehensively in a 3-0 defeat to their arch-rivals but also seeing Rob Holding sent off just after the half hour.
With Gabriel later going off injured at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Ben White wasn’t risked from off the bench in the knowledge he could be the only available centre back for this hugely important clash, it will be interesting to see who plays alongside him if the Brazilian doesn’t make it.
Despite still having their Champions League qualification destiny in their own hands – Mikel Arteta’s side could find themselves outside the top four with Spurs hosting Burnley on Sunday lunchtime, with a win for Antonio Conte’s men really turning up the heat on their neighbors.
The pressure looked like it got to Arsenal on Thursday night, seemingly overawed by the atmosphere and occasion, so much so I am intrigued to see how they react to another similarly boisterous crowd.
Eight defeats from their 18 road trips, with a -3 goal difference, highlights the Gunners are also fallible away from the Emirates, losing three of their last five games when travelling, with each of those defeats coming “to-nil”.
With so many question marks I am loving the +0.5 Asian Handicap at slight odds against, meaning we more than double our money simply for Newcastle avoiding defeat.
A player shots double makes up my other selection for this game and involves a player who served us well last week on a similar bet but one in which we focused on his tackling.
As mentioned in the Manchester City preview, Bruno Guimarães has made himself indispensable in Newcastle's midfield, contributing four goals and an assist since starting his first game for the club in March.
The Brazilian has fired in 19 shots from his 854 minutes of action which equates to one attempt at goal every 45 minutes having at least one strike in each of his nine starts since his arrival from Lyon – 1/1/1/1/4/1/3/1/3.
To make a nice double your money double I am taking a chance on Eddie Nketiah retaining his place in the Arsenal starting lineup, hoping his four goals in six appearances since replacing Alex Lacazette will be enough to persuade his manager to give him the nod.
Those six starts have yielded 20 attempts at goal with more than half (11) hitting the target and after failing to do so in the first of those games, the 1-0 defeat to Southampton, the 22-year-old has managed at least one shot on goal in each of the last five – 2/2/4/1/2.
With season averages on our side, Guimarães hitting 2 shots per 90 minutes and Nketiah 1.62 shots on target per 90, the 1/1 with Bet 365 – a best priced 4/5 elsewhere – look lovely odds for the prop play of Guimarães over 0.5 shots and Eddie Nketiah over 0.5 shots on target.