And welcome to live coverage of Newcastle United v Arsenal at St James’ Park. This could be a cracking game between two upwardly mobile teams who rejoined the Champions League elite this season.
The two clubs have had so much going on across three competitions that it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. In short, they haven’t quite the heights of last season but are both going pretty well.
Newcastle have been competitive in the Champions League group of death, embarrassed the Carabao Cup holders Manchester United in midweek and have recovered solidly from three defeats in the first four Premier League games.
The biggest disappointment has been the suspension of Sandro Tonali, whose 10-man ban may yet be extended by the Football Assocation. “All I can say to you is that we have fully cooperated with all of the associations and organisations concerned and the FA are, of course, fully aware of what’s going on,” said the director of football Dan Ashworth. “All I can deal with is the present and the facts. I can’t look into the future and [if the ban will be extended].”
Arsenal are still unbeaten in the league, even their football hasn’t been quite as exhilarating as it was last autumn. They’re going well in Europe, despite a disappointing defeat to Lens, but they were hammered by West Ham in the Carabao Cup in the week.
With Gabriel Jesus suffering another injury, Mikel Arteta was asked yesterday about Brentford reportedly putting a £100m price tag on Ivan Toney. “There has been an evolution,” he said. “We have gone from 10s to 20s to 80s to 100s and there are players who have cost £200m… On other players, other clubs, no comment on that.”
Arteta also discussed how Arsenal decide whether to sign players. “The first thing is ‘what can we do to improve our team and can we afford it?’” he said. “Does it make sense in our project to spend certain money on certain players. There is a lot of work to be done there.”
Kick off is at 5.30pm, and we’ll have team news shortly.