Newcastle could end a dismal run of 10 consecutive defeats to Arsenal and consolidate their Premier League safety with a fourth straight win at St James’ Park on Sunday.
Not since Chris Hughton was in charge have Newcastle beaten the Gunners in a league encounter, a 1-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium courtesy of a towering Andy Carroll header that earned Hughton’s newly-promoted side an unlikely three points in November 2010.
And you would have to go back almost 13 years to December 2005 for the last time Arsenal departed Tyneside empty handed after Nolberto Solano’s late goal settled a tense match.
Despite that, Rafa Benitez and his players must fancy their chances of halting that barren record this weekend with Arsene Wenger’s side travelling to the North East on the back of four consecutive away defeats to Brighton, Tottenham, Swansea and Bournemouth and just three wins on their travels all season.
Wenger neglected to rest many of his regulars for Thursday’s quarter-final second leg tie against CSKA Moscow in Russia and the Arsenal manager is likely to make changes to his line-up with success the Europe League now his priority
But with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang set to return due to being cup-tied in Europe, Newcastle will need to be at their best to deal with the individual talents that Arsenal possess if they are to maintain a fine recent run that has seen the emergence of several strong partnerships in key areas of the pitch.
Team spirit has been at the core of United’s excellent form in 2018, but Benitez will require the unity of those partnerships to achieve a positive result and finally secure that elusive win over Arsenal.