After a much needed second-half fight-back against CSKA Moscow, Arsenal kept their good run of form going to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League where they’ll face Atletico Madrid.
However, despite the relative success in Europe, they return to the Premier League where they seem stranded in 6th place.
This weekend sees another lengthy trip for Arsenal as they travel up to St. James’ Park where an in-form Newcastle side awaits.
For much of this season, Newcastle have been one of the sides tipped for relegation due to the fact that Rafa Benitez hasn’t been able to bolster his Championship squad of last year. But in recent weeks, that seems to be very much something of the past.
Benitez’s side have come out on top In their last three games with victories over Southampton, Huddersfield and Leicester who are fairly close to them in the table.
This has seen Newcastle shoot up to tenth, and with confidence now amongst the Toon Army this could be a difficult affair for the Gunners after a tough European fixture out in Russia.
But, if we look at this fixture historically, the odds are very much so in Arsenal’s favour.
The last time Arsenal failed to beat Newcastle was the opening day of the 2011/12 season, a game which saw Gervinho get sent off on his debut.
Since then, Arsenal have gone through different spells in the manner that they’ve beaten Newcastle with a couple of thrashings like the 7-3 in 2012, however, of late only one goal has separated the sides in their last three meetings which suggests this game could be very tight. Especially when you bring in the factors of Arsenal’s possible European hangover and Newcastle’s form.
There are a few factors that could help Arsenal in their search for dominance on Sunday, however, and one big factor could be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Since arriving at Arsenal in January, the striker has hit the ground running, scoring six goals (five of which coming in his last four games). Coming into this game with a confidence that he will be able to find the net at some point should encourage not just him but Arsenal as a whole to get a few goals.
Also, with Danny Welbeck coming into form off the left-hand side, he could be an option from the start as over the past couple of weeks he has proven to be vital. Not just with his goalscoring (five goals in six games) but with the overall effort he puts in on the pitch to help the team going forward and at the back.
Furthermore, with Mohamed Elneny’s red card against Southampton having been rescinded, coming off the back of a great couple of weeks which have included a new contract and a standout performance in the Europa League quarter-final, him stepping in could help with the possible absence of Granit Xhaka.
Arsenal will be looking for recent history to be a key component in Sunday’s game also because they haven’t lost at St. James’ Park since December 2005.
Finally, a win could open the possibility of the Gunners snatching 5th place from Chelsea instead of being marooned in 6th, so there could be something to play for.