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Allan Saint-Maximin’s threat to Arsenal and how Mikel Arteta can avoid the Newcastle trap

Arsenal welcome Newcastle United to the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

It’s both teams’ first games after the first ever Premier League winter break and is also a repeat of the fixture from the opening weekend of the new season when the north London outfit were 1-0 winners.

To say the Gunners need to pick up another three points is an understatement. Their hopes of a top-four finish are fading fast and there’s a chance they could finish outside of the European spots.

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So what can Arsenal expect from Newcastle on Sunday?

Interestingly the visitors have picked up more Premier League wins than the Gunners this season and beat Tottenham Hotspur on their previous visit to north London all the way back in August.

Ahead of the game, we asked the Chronicle’s Newcastle United writer Andrew Musgrove about the Magpies’ strengths and weaknesses, and what problems the Gunners could encounter.

Newcastle’s strengths

Defensively they are very strong and organised with a superb goalkeeper behind them in Martin Dubravka.

Steve Bruce has a wealth of options to pick from when it comes to his three centre-backs and they’ll be confident of shutting Arsenal out.

The side’s team spirit and commitment is also a major strength – that never say die attitude has won them so many points this season.

Steve Bruce celebrates at St. James Park (Image: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
(Image: Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Weaknesses

Lack of goals – Joelinton doesn’t look like scoring, although he is playing well in other elements of his game.

However, he is NUFC’s number nine and was brought in to score goals – but is struggling to do so.

It’s a major worry.

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Where Arsenal can exploit Newcastle

It’s closing off Allan Saint-Maximin – he is their main threat.

If Arsenal can shut him off, and stopping him bombing down the wing – then they’ll keep United quiet.

Where Newcastle will hurt Arsenal

That man again – Allan Saint-Maximin. Give the ball to him and watch him go.

He’s got great control with the ball at his feet, and his speed is scary.

Whoever is marking him will have a job on his hands.