The Premier League returns this weekend, with Newcastle taking on Arsenal for a televised game on Sunday, in a difficult opening for Steve Bruce’s side.
Newcastle do not have a good record on the opening weekend of the season, having failed to win the first game in any of the previous six attempts – and that includes the Championship season in 2016/2017.
In fact, they have only won two of their least 12 season openers, with eight of those games coming against top six sides Tottenham, both Manchester clubs and this weekend’s opponents, Arsenal.
So once again it is a tough start for Steve Bruce’s first game in charge, but The Sun claims that Arsenal have fitness concerns about three of their stars.
New signings Dani Ceballos and Nicolas Pepe are in a race to be ready, while Alexandre Lacazette missed the Gunners’ friendly against Barcelona due to an ankle injury picked up in the previous game.
Ceballos came on for the last 18 minutes against Barcelona, but received a kick from Clement Lenglet, which meant the defender has been unable to train since.
Pepe, having recently signed for Unai Emery’s side, is training alone in a bid to be match fit in time for the visit to St James’ Park, with the most likely scenario being a spot on the bench for their record signing.
Although Lacazette missed their last friendly, Arsenal are optimistic he will be available for Sunday’s game, but whether they risk him aggravating the injury on the opening weekend, remains to be seen.
Playing on Sunday should help players recover from knocks
With the game taking place on Sunday, it does give any niggles an extra day to clear up, and it would still be a surprise if their stars were not fit enough to play some part in the game.
Newcastle are likely to be without Matt Ritchie, and with DeAndre Yedlin just returning to training this week, they are both likely to watch from the sidelines on Sunday.
It is an intriguing contest that awaits, with Newcastle’s new and exciting forward line having fans excited, while the possibility of three of their big names potentially missing out, will be seen as an opportunity to snatch a rare opening win.