Newcastle United v Arsenal Preview

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Newcastle United have an opportunity to surpass the 40-point Premier League safety mark when they face an Arsenal side who weathered a tough tie in Russian Federation to progress to the semi-finals of the Europa League. Despite the highly-rated Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being available to play, the 27-year-old England worldwide may be the first name on Arsene Wenger's team sheet to take on the Magpies.

Meanwhile, for the away outfit Granit Xhaka is likely to remain out due to a bout of flu while Jack Wilshere needs to be assessed after being withdrawn in the 2-2 draw with CSKA with a knock.

Mohamed Elneny is also available after winning an appeal against the red card he received against Southampton.

Arsenal, too, are in great form; having salvaged a draw in Moscow to ensure progression to the Europa League semi finals on Thursday, they saw a run of six straight wins come to an end.

"Cup-tied in Europe, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has taken to the Premier League nicely, and could score in a fifth successive game - against a club he almost joined, in a part of the world where he's made his mark before." .

Newcastle have lost their last 10 league games against Arsenal.

Newcastle have won 19 points in 2018, a total bettered only by the top four (prior to the latest round of matches). Benitez is a man who values the emotional side of football, the loyalty, the passion and the love, just as much as he does success and medals; in that sense, he is rather unique in terms of the very top managers.

The last time Arsenal lost five successive away league games was in 1984 - a run which ended with a 3-1 victory at St James' Park, with Charlie Nicholas scoring twice for the Gunners that day.

They have won their last three matches on the trot and are unbeaten at home in their last seven games, raising the question as to whether Arsenal's miserable away record can stand up to the task. A win in this game can push United above Everton to the 9 place and though the 1-0 loss at Emirates in December in the reverse fixture is still fresh in the minds, Newcastle United are sure to put up a fight in this tie.

Probability of away win: 45%.

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