Mikel Arteta can overcome Kylian Mbappe problem with Bukayo Saka in new Arsenal role vs Newcastle


Arsenal will need to exploit Newcastle's defence in order to win at St James' Park says former midfielder Emmanuel Petit. The Gunners travel to the north east on Saturday for a key top-of-the-table clash but are looking to overcome contrasting midweeks for the two sides.

Whilst Mikel Arteta's men crashed out of the Carabao Cup it was Eddie Howe and Newcastle making the true headlines after battering Manchester United with a second-string team at Old Trafford. Both starting XIs promise to be extremely different when they face off in the league this weekend but the visitors have been advised to take advantage of a certain matchup in order to come out on top.

Against one of the league's best backlines - Newcastle have only conceded 11 times in the opening 11 games, just four teams have conceded less, Arsenal are one of them - the challenge will be to break down a stubborn side that has found familiarity and consistency in selection.

With former Tottenham and Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier leading the way and Nick Pope commanding in goal, the Toon have one of the more settled defences in the league but issues for Fabian Schar and Sven Botman have added some uncertainty to selection that Arteta will be keen to take advantage of.

Matt Targett was selected at left-back on Wednesday but had to go off after just five minutes with Miguel Almiron replacing him. Dan Burn may well be the man to take that role on Saturday and Petit sees it as a key battle. "I think it'll be a game that Bukayo Saka can do something in," he told OLBG.

"I like Dan Burn, but he's tall and heavy, and that can make it difficult to cope against Saka." It was Burn's solid performance at the Emirates Stadium last year in a 0-0 draw that really made most sit up and pay attention to Newcastle with the Geordie man shutting down Saka effectively, frustrating the home side.

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On this occasion he may well find himself challenged with the same task as Saka comes into the game after a bit of a rest, only being a late substitute for the loss to the Hammers. Burn is far from one of the quickest defenders in the league but has mastered getting every advantage possible from his game and is an awkward player to get past.

He proved his worth with a stellar showing against Paris Saint-Germain in Europe earlier this season and Petit thinks it will be the type of gameplan that Howe turns to again. "Both teams are involved in the Champions League. I was at St. James' Park during the PSG game and Newcastle were great," he said.

"I know that, at home, it's very difficult to get a point from Newcastle, so Arsenal know exactly what is waiting for them! They'll play against a compact team with an immense fighting spirit. The Arsenal fans will be in good form as it's a top-of-the-table clash. It'll be difficult, but if Arsenal can keep their freshness and composure, I think they can win and get a very good result."

The result could shift on who gets the better of the Burn-Saka one-on-one and the perfect template has been set for the hosts here. Against Luis Enrique's still star-studded PSG side it was Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani patrolling the frontline behind Goncalo Ramos and the trio hardly had a quick between them.

Mbape in particular had licence to move across the pitch but rarely went up against Burn, such was the way that he had locked town that side of the pitch. Instead, it was Dembele that moved to the right but he was unable to have a big impact, losing seven of his ground duels and watching Burn go down the other end to score instead.

Now it's Saka's turn to try and stamp his name on this fixture.

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Mikel Arteta celebrates Arsenal's recent Premier League victory over Manchester City

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