ARSENAL’S visit to Newcastle is the pick of tomorrow’s Premier League fixtures and one that brings together two sides harbouring huge ambitions to land British football’s biggest prize.
It is certainly not beyond either club to go on to win the league, but they have aspirations that might be a step too far.
Indeed, winning a clash like this will help galvanise the team and hold them in better stead when coming up against the two clubs who are expected to tussle for the title – the teams from the Etihad and Anfield.
One could say that, and rightly so, winning or losing tomorrow’s late kickoff won’t decide their fate in the bid for the league crown.
But three points for either outfit at St James Park will go a long way towards reinforcing their belief that they can go all the way this time.
Last season, Arsenal led almost all the way before they were jumped by Treble winners Manchester City.
And Newcastle were primed to finish third, only to slip back into fourth place behind Manchester United.
In both instances, those campaigns were massive improvements, and both will be looking for even more this term.
Arsenal, in second place by virtue of a better goal aggregate than the champions, got off to a better start than their Tyneside hosts.
Newcastle, though, are finding a bit of decent form, having climbed to sixth place in the standings.
The Magpies are seven points adrift of the Gunners and nine off Tottenham’s pace at the top.
In midweek, which shouldn’t count for too much tomorrow, Arsenal were knocked out of the Carabao League Cup by London rivals West Ham 3-1.
Newcastle booted Man United out with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Old Trafford.
The Gunners are expected to recall to the First XI William Saliba, Bukayo Saka, captain Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli and Declan Rice, all of whom started on the bench in the cup game on Wednesday.
Similarly, skipper Kieran Trippier, Jamaal Lascelles, Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron, Dan Burn and Bruno Guimaraes are all expected to return to Newcastle’s starting line-up after polishing the bench in midweek.
On paper, Mikel Arteta’s Gunners look like a solid bet.
But with home advantage and boosted by that stylish triumph in Manchester, Eddie Howe’s side could tilt the scales their way and continue with the mini revival, during which they have not lost in their last seven league games.
League leaders Tottenham are at home to Chelsea in what should be another rather fiery London derby.
Spurs are gliding along just fine with new manager Ange Postecoglou at the helm.
With a 10-match unbeaten start to his tenure as Spurs boss, the Australian will do well to see off the Blues at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Monday.
Mauricio Pochettino, who also only took over in the off-season, appears to be getting things sorted out at Stamford Bridge and might fancy his chances against a Spurs side that has to stumble at one time or another.
Man United travel to Fulham seeking to avoid a third defeat in a row.
They lost their last two games with identical 3-0 scorelines.
Defeat in the early kickoff today would almost certainly spell the end of Erik ten Hag’s time at Old Trafford.
Arteta and Howe need not worry about stuff like that. Instead, they’ll be keen on all three points to consolidate their positions near the top of the table.