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Newcastle United aim for European return against Arsenal in crucial PL clash

With just five Premier League (PL) games remaining in their campaign, Newcastle United look poised to end a decade of hurt by returning to the European stage. You’d have to go back to 2012/13 for the last time St. James’ Park witnessed a European night, and with a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League within touching distance for Newcastle, don’t expect any let-up against title chasing Arsenal.

An impressive eight wins from nine PL games (L1) goes some way to proving Newcastle’s credentials, a run that includes a 6-1 home demolition of Arsenal’s North London rivals, Tottenham. These two sides interestingly met at an almost identical stage of the season in the last campaign, and with Newcastle running out 2-0 winners to decimate Arsenal’s top-four hopes, they will hope footballing karma doesn’t return the favour this term.

After a wobble of four PL games without a victory (D3, L1), Arsenal finally got back to winning ways in midweek, beating Chelsea 3-1 to show title rivals Man City they’re still alive and kicking. However, trailing City by a point having played a game more, things aren’t looking great in Arsenal’s title quest, but a defiant boss Mikel Arteta insists his side “still have belief” they can go on and lift the trophy later this month.

Having suffered just two defeats from their last 15 visits to St. James’ Park (W9, D4), Arteta’s side ought to have belief they can at the very least keep the pressure on City. The Gunners’ solid record in Sunday-held PL games should only serve to reinforce that belief too, with Arsenal avoiding defeat in each of their last 12 such games (W9, D3), though the last two of those ended in 2-2 draws after holding a 2-0 lead!

Players to watch: With five goals from his last three PL outings, four of which arrived after the break, Newcastle’s Callum Wilson is in red-hot form. At the double in midweek, Arsenal’s Martin Ødegaard has hit a purple patch himself, with his last four PL away goals arriving in the first half.

Hot stat: No side has kept more PL away clean sheets than Arsenal’s nine this season – almost twice as many as any other side.

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