A gentle reminder that Mesut Özil and Sead Kolasinac are absent because of “security concerns”. Police said two men have been charged with a public order offence connected to an Arsenal player, with the pair arrested outside the north London home of Özil. A fortnight ago the players were targeted by carjackers. On that occasion footage showed Kolasinac confronting the offenders, who were brandishing knives, after they approached Özil’s car in Golders Green. Police said they were treating the public order offence and the attempted car-jacking as separate incidents.
Essential pre-match reading:
Now, here’s a killer pre-match stat, courtesy of Opta: Arsenal have named two English teenagers (Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson) in their starting XI for a Premier League game for the first time since February 1998 (Paolo Vernazza and Matthew Upson v Crystal Palace), before either Willock or Nelson were born.
Team news news: Newcastle’s £40m record signing Joelinton is in from the off but Unai Emery opts to keep his raft of new signings – David Luiz, Dani Ceballos, Nicolas Pépé and Gabriel Martinelli – on a very strong Arsenal bench. Reiss Nelson makes his first start for more than 15 months and the 19-year-old Joe Willock also has a chance to impress. Newcastle’s other new recruits, Emil Krafth and Allan Saint-Maximin, are among the subs. Andy Carroll has been milling around the tunnel but is not involved. When fit, his arrival should at least aid Joelinton, who was hardly prolific in the Bundesliga last season. The Brazilian forward scored 11 goals in all competitions for Hoffenheim last term but found the net only three times since 3 November. “He [Joelinton] is a typical, big number nine, with pace and power,” Bruce says. “We hope he can adapt quickly but he has all the attributes to do well.”
Newcastle United (3-5-2): Dubravka; Schär, Lascelles, Dummett; Manquillo, Hayden, Shelvey, Longstaff, Ritchie; Almiron, Joelinton
Subs: Darlow, Clark, Fernández, Krafth, Willems, Saint-Maximin, Muto
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Maitland-Niles, Sokratis, Chambers, Monreal; Xhaka, Guendouzi; Nelson, Willock, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang
Subs: Martínez, David Luiz, Torreira, Ceballos, Pépé, Martinelli, Lacazette
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Big Andy Carroll is, sadly, not going to be involved but there are any number of exciting subplots to get stuck into. With debuts expected for Dani Ceballos and David Luiz, protests planned against Mike Ashley and further questions bound to be asked over the security of Mesut Özil and Sead Kolasinac, who are not part of Unai Emery’s travelling party. Then there is the small matter of Steve Bruce, who was born down the road in Corbridge, taking charge of first Newcastle game. A win on day one of their season would go some way to wooing a Toon Army that are still sore from the departure of Rafael Benítez, and Salomón Rondón for that matter. Bruce has at least been given some money to strengthen his squad this summer, with Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin set to feature. Arsenal, too, have been flexing their financial muscle, with Kieran Tierney and £72m record signing Nicolas Pépé among those coming through the door to overhaul a new-look Arsenal squad in the past couple of weeks. Throwing around a bit of cash has failed to halt the disquiet on Tyneside though, with a boycott against Ashley’s ownership and a city-centre protest march also scheduled. “For me, I don’t want it to upset the team and we know what a full St James’ Park can do,” Bruce said. “I am sure the fans will enjoy seeing the players on the pitch. I want to give the fans a team they can be proud of and can associate with.”
Kick-off: 2pm (BST)