Newcastle United head into the international break in the bottom three of the Premier League having acquired only one point from their opening four games.
Three of those fixtures were against the so called ‘big clubs’: Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City. United mustered their only point against Cardiff City, in a game that they should have won; had Kenedy dispatched his injury-time penalty, which was more jittery than trying some online betting for the first time.
It is not all doom and gloom on Tyneside however, with the international break allowing key players to recover from injuries. United were without star men Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie at the Etihad, while captain Jamaal Lascelles missed out on the Chelsea game.
With Shelvey and Ritchie out, United certainly lack creativity and they will be glad to welcome the pair back when they face Arsenal at home following the interval.
Newcastle were somewhat lacking their entire spine that helped them to a 10th place finish last season, with centre-back Florian Lejeune also suffering a long-term injury. Lejeune, Lascelles, Shelvey and Ritchie were all inspirational for the Magpies and, with all the mentioned players missing out at some point thus far, it is no surprise that the Geordies have struggled.
Another positive note is that Newcastle have three of their toughest fixtures out of the way early on. As a result, the fixture list will prove slightly better reading for the Magpies compared to other clubs, which will be a bonus in what seems like another fight for survival; although most would prefer points on the board already.
In terms of injuries, Lejeune looks set to be out until the festive period, while Shelvey and Ritchie should be fit for the showdown against the Gunners, which United will hope will be a repeat of the 2-1 victory in April.
Written by Dawud Arshad
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