Newcastle United-Arsenal Preview
Coming out of the winter break, Arsenal have as many points as Newcastle United and about the same long odds of finishing among the top four in the Premier League.
Still, each side look to extend their own modest unbeaten streak when they meet Sunday at the Emirates.
Heading into this weekend's fixtures, Arsenal (6-13-6) sit 10th in the able whilst amidst a 1-4-0 league stretch - with those draws following a 2-0 win over Manchester United on New Year's Day.
Newcastle (8-7-10), meanwhile, are 12th, with the same 31 points as Arsenal and fixed in a 1-3-0 stretch.
"I didn't think we'd be on level points (with Arsenal), I'll tell you that, and I didn't think we'd win two more games than Arsenal," Newcastle manager Steve Bruce, told the club's official website of his thinking back when the Magpies suffered a 1-0 season-opening home loss to the Gunners.
"But, it's the Premier League, and it is what it is."
Heading into play Saturday, however, both sides are 10 points out of fourth place in the table.
The Gunners spent a spell of the winter break in Dubai, training and also coming together further as a unit.
"It was great to be together and spend some time together, get to know each other," manager Mikel Arteta told Arsenal's official website.
"We reflected on what we did together in the last five or six weeks since I joined. The things we improved, and are very positive, and we have to maintain. Also, the things we need to improve and develop."
Arsenal can use some offensive improvement since they've scored more than one goal twice and totaled eight goals during their current 1-6-2 league stretch. The Gunners are coming off a scoreless draw versus Burnley from Feb. 2.
Arsenal, though, have won 13 of their last 14 league matches versus Newcastle. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14 goals in the Premier League) scored the lone goal in the 58th minute of the season-opening win over the Magpies, but he has just one goal over his last five league games at the Emirates.
The Magpies have managed just nine goals over that 14-game stretch against Arsenal, and seven during their current 2-3-4 stretch in the league. Like the Gunners, Newcastle's most recent Premier League contest ended in a scoreless draw - at home in rather frustrating fashion against last-place Norwich City on Feb. 1.
Newcastle are also 0-2-2 on the road since winning at Sheffield United on Dec. 5, but Bruce has belief that his club can continue to progress outside of the break.
"I think we've done OK," Bruce said. "We've had some huge problems over the last six weeks, and fair play to the squad for showing that resilience that they've shown in many, many games.
"They're a good set who roll up their sleeves and make sure they have a go. When you've got a team like that, you've always got a chance."
The Magpies could possibly see injured contributor Dwight Gayle back in the mix for the weekend, however, uncertainly remains around the availability of Jonjo Shelvey (five league goals) and Andy Carroll.
Updated February 14, 2020