Newcastle United: A preview of the club’s April fixtures

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on January 20, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20: Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on January 20, 2018 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images) /
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NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 05: Cheik Tiote of Newcastle celebrates scoring the fourth and equalising goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 05: Cheik Tiote of Newcastle celebrates scoring the fourth and equalising goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James’ Park on February 5, 2011 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) /

April 15th: Arsenal (Home)

Hopes of a top-four finish are all but gone in North London. In almost definitely Arsene Wenger’s worst season as a manger, his Gunners side sit sixth and 13 points adrift of the top four.

Winning two of their last five games and losing the other three, opponents of Arsenal are often at the mercy of which Arsenal team decides to show up on the day – for better or worse. There is no doubt to the quality of players such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Mesut Ozil, but the ferocious nature of the St. James’ Park crowd could easily aid Newcastle in exploiting the Gunners’ mental fragility.

Fortunately for the Toon, the fixture comes during a heavily congested period for Arsenal. With four games in the space of twelve days, Stoke, Southampton and two legs of the Europa League quarter-final against CSKA Moscow are all scheduled for Arsenal in the month of April, prior to the Newcastle game.

If the away trip to Leicester doesn’t prove fruitful for Rafa Benitez, he will fancy his side’s chances against an Arsenal team that will be only two days removed from a long flight back from Moscow. The reverse fixture saw the Toon lose 1-0 to a 23rd-minute Ozil goal, and Newcastle enjoyed only 28% possession at the Emirates. However, the mood around the two clubs has changed since December, and there is good chance Arsene Wenger will not be making the Premier League a priority.

Despite recent concerns over the match fitness of loanee Islam Slimani, who has yet to make an appearance for the Toon since signing in January, by April 15th it’s likely that the Algerian international would be ready to play a part in the first team. Arsenal’s weakness is in both the centre of midfield and in their defence, and the physical presence of Slimani would be a perfect choice to lead the line.

Prediction: 2-1 Newcastle