No team in Premier League history has lost the title after collecting 16 points from 43 games, and those in red and white are just starting to believe that little bit more by the week, as Mikel Arteta’s young guns continue to defy pre-season expectations.
Arteta admitted that his side did little to stem the flow of Brighton’s eye-catching response, but a 14th top-flight win of the season – coupled with Manchester City dropping points against Everton – allowed the Gunners to enjoy their midnight celebrations seven points clear at the top of the table.
With the champions not in action until Thursday’s battle with Chelsea, Arsenal – who are the only Premier League team with a 100% home record still intact – could remarkably extend their lead into double figures on Tuesday night, thereby silencing a few more doubters of their title credentials.
Victory over Leeds would have allowed Newcastle to move level on points with Man City, but the Magpies remain on the final podium spot entering 2023 – only two behind the reigning champions and nine adrift of Arsenal, both of whom have a game in hand – so the two teams on the Emirates turf could occupy first and second place if Howe’s side get the job done on Tuesday.
The perennially-injured Takehiro Tomiyasu shook off his latest hamstring problem to come on as a second-half substitute at the Amex, leaving Arsenal with just two guaranteed absentees for this contest in Gabriel Jesus and Reiss Nelson.
Emile Smith Rowe has taken part in a few training sessions as he closes in on a return from groin surgery, but he will only make the bench at best here if he is passed fit, with Arteta likely to keep faith in his tried-and-tested starting XI despite the quick turnaround.
Nketiah continues to fill the boots of Jesus admirably and could record his 12th goal from his last 12 starts at the Emirates, despite only having 16 shots on target during that eyebrow-raising run.
With regard to Newcastle, none of Howe’s injured quintet should be able to return on Tuesday, with Alexander Isak, Jonjo Shelvey, Matt Targett, Emil Krafth and Paul Dummett all unavailable for the top-of-the-table clash.
Former Arsenal man Joe Willock will hope to receive a warm welcome back to the Emirates, but he could also be sacrificed for the returning Allan Saint-Maximin, who caused Tomiyasu a world of problems in May’s win over the Gunners.
Possible starting lineup:
Data will be available at kick off time or sooner.
Newcastle United (29.6%)
Arsenal 2-1 Newcastle United
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