What a hotly contested top four this Premier League season is going to see.
After some drastic moves on deadline day for several English Premier League clubs, the EPL is set to start this weekend once again with my beloved Arsenal travelling up north for an away trip to Newcastle.
I still quietly remember after that dreadful performance in Baku from the Gunners while reading all these rumours by football journalists about some oil tycoons taking over Newcastle, just like what happened to Manchester City a decade ago.
Fast forward to August 2019 and they’re still stuck with Mike Ashley. Even worse, they’ve had Rafa Benitez resigning to manage in the Chinese Super League.
To make things worse, the Magpies have lost their main attacking threats in Salomon Rondon, Ayoze Perez and Joselu to Dalian Yifang, Leicester City and Alaves respectively. To make up for those losses, new manager Steve Bruce has brought in Brazillian striker Joelinton from Hoffeinheim, an exciting French youngster in Allan Saint-Maximin from Nice and a deadline day signing of former academy player Andy Carroll – who will miss the next few weeks due to injury.
That’s the most Andy Carroll thing ever.
The Magpies will need these three firing with goals or else they will be in the Championship next season. At the other end, there’s only Swedish right back Emil Krafth joining on deadline day to bolster a struggling defence.
Arsenal must build a statue of Raul Sanllehi and Edu outside the Emirates. After all these years of poor work from Ivan Gazidis when negotiating transfers, these two have pulled off some great deals considering Arsenal have been in Europa League for three consecutive seasons.
The club has managed to bring in players in positions they needed strengthening – a fullback in Kieran Tierney, two centre backs in William Saliba (gone back on loan to Saint Ettiene for the season) and David Luiz, loaned in midfielder Dani Ceballos and two wingers in Nicholas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli.
While David Luiz is not the centre half Arsenal expected to buy at the beginning of the transfer window, he will be a good addition in the short term. While it is a bit sad to see Alex Iwobi go to Everton, 40 million is a bargain and reports are the money can be used to buy RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano in the January transfer window.
Out of all of the clubs in the Premier League, Arsenal probably if not have had the best window in terms of strengthening their squad. The Gunners should be aiming for fourth position with the situation Chelsea and Manchester United are in with managers who are currently out of their league right now.
Newcastle seriously overachieved under Rafa by somehow surviving relegation with a below par squad and a limited budget. With the Spaniard gone and a manager coming in who finished 12th with Sheffield Wednesday last season in the Championship, it could be a long season for the Magpies faithful.
But while Arsenal are the favourites in this match despite it being an away game, it would be the most Arsenal thing to lose this match. Not to mention the last time they won an opening game of the EPL away from the Emirates stadium was in 2009 against Everton.
Their away form was woeful last season but with the mess Newcastle are in and the buzz around the Arsenal squad, I can’t go past a 3-1 win for the kings of North London.
Arsenal (3-4-3 or 3-4-1-2 formation): Bernd Leno, Ainsley Maitland Niles, Sokratis, David Luiz, Nacho Monreal, Sead Kolasinac, Joe Willock, Dani Ceballos, Mesut Ozil, Alex Lacazette, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
Newcastle (5-4-1 formation): Martin Dubravka, Javier Manquillo, Federico Fernandez, Florian Lejeune, Fabian Schar, Jetro Willems, Ki Sung Yueng, Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Ritchie, Rolando Aarons, Joelinton