Arsenal vs Newcastle has developed into one of the Premier League’s most fiercely contested rivalries. Ahead of their meeting on Saturday, we ask: how did we get to this point?

The recent ill feeling between these sides started when a nouveau riche Newcastle as good as put the final nail in the coffin of Arsenal’s Champions League qualification hopes at the end of 2021-22.

It got a whole lot worse when Newcastle then dented Arsenal’s title chances last January in a goalless draw at the Emirates in which the hosts took exception to what they felt was excessive time-wasting.

Then, there was a heated affair at the end of the 2022-23 season when Arsenal blew Newcastle away and left them scrambling to hold on to a top-four spot.

This term, what this simmering tension between two clubs who were charging into new-found success at the top of the Premier League table didn’t then need – or definitely did need, depending on who you’re asking – was a hugely controversial winner in their meeting at St James’ Park in November.

Arsenal vs Newcastle has become a surprise new Premier League grudge match. Two teams who are looking to disrupt those dominating at the top of the table have found games against one another particularly infuriating, and Saturday’s meeting could well prove to be another entertaining one.

Here, we take a look at the key features of recent games between the teams to try and work out how exactly we got to the point where Arsenal vs Newcastle took on such meaning, and why exactly this weekend’s game could promise more of the same.

New-Found Success

These two teams have been breaking new ground in the last couple of seasons, and both probably saw the other as a potential obstacle to their own success.

Only two years ago, Arsenal were Europa League regulars, never finishing higher than fifth – and as low as eighth – in five consecutive seasons. Newcastle, meanwhile, have now put the Mike Ashley years behind them and last season achieved their highest Premier League finish in 20 years.

Both teams had their sights on breaking into the top four a few years ago, and even if their paths have diverged somewhat this season – with Arsenal chasing the title and Newcastle possibly out of the hunt for Champions League qualification – the foundations for the rivalry were built.


You’d call it ‘time-wasting’ or ‘game management’ depending on which side of the fence you sat for Arsenal and Newcastle’s meeting in January 2023, but the truth is that everybody does it. It might just be that Newcastle did it on this one occasion more, better (or worse?!), or more infuriatingly than most other teams generally do.

A goalless draw at the Emirates wouldn’t normally elicit such strong feelings, but the crowd were incensed at Nick Pope taking so long over goal-kicks that the narrative among Arsenal fans afterwards was very much that Newcastle hadn’t earned and didn’t deserve their point.

arsenal 0-0 newcastle stats

In that match, the ball was in play for 51 minutes, 23 seconds. That might sound like a shockingly low amount of time, but it only ranked as the 78th shortest out of 380 Premier League games in 2022-23. But Newcastle taking a long time over goal-kicks was a feature of last season; they took longer to take theirs than every other team in the Premier League.

Premier League goal kick times 2022-23

This season, ball-in-play times are up across the board as a result of the new directives on time-wasting, which have led to far longer matches. Newcastle’s games are averaging 58 minutes, 53 seconds with the ball in play – far more than in that game at the Emirates – but only three teams have had the ball in play for less time per game than them this season.

Those teams – Sheffield United, Bournemouth and Luton – are all in the bottom half and two of them are battling relegation, so there’s an argument they’d have more cause to run the clock down when holding on to a lead than Newcastle.

What’s more, when looking specifically at how long each team takes over their goal-kicks, Newcastle are responsible for two of the three longest average times by any team in a Premier League game this season (vs Aston Villa and vs Wolves). When they want to do it, Newcastle are better than most when it comes to game management, and that can wind their opponents up.


Time-wasting/game management breeds frustration, which leads to petty fouls, arguments, and cards. That tempestuous goalless draw mentioned above produced nine yellows, which is the fifth-most in a Premier League game since the start of last season, while Newcastle’s 1-0 win in the reverse fixture earlier this season produced six, with Newcastle getting five of them. Not one of them, before you ask, was given for time-wasting.

An 8pm kick-off on Saturday is only going to add to the atmosphere; this one could be another feisty affair.

VAR Controversy

Just to add some real spice to the mix ahead of this game, the last meeting was decided by a goal that was controversial in several ways. Depending on who you talk to and where their loyalties lie, Anthony Gordon’s 64th-minute winner might have been ruled out for three different reasons.

Ultimately, none of the apparent infringements were deemed clear enough to overturn the on-field decision and the goal stood.

newcastle 1-0 arsenal stats

But there were also two other incidents that might have drawn red cards: Kai Havertz’s wild lunge on Sean Longstaff for which he got a yellow, and Bruno Guimarães’ frankly indefensible forearm club around Jorginho’s head, with which he got away scot-free.

The defeat was Arsenal’s first in the Premier League this season and saw them drop from second to fourth place. It was a bitter pill for Arsenal to swallow and one they’ll want revenge for this weekend.

Recent Form

Both teams come into the game in as good shape as they have been in a long while. Arsenal are quite possibly showing their best form since Arteta took over, having won five league matches in a row while scoring 21 goals, and only allowing their opponents two shots on target and just 0.9 expected goals (xG) in their last three league games. In the midweek Champions League defeat to Porto, Arsenal put in a performance as surprising as it was disappointing, and they’ll hope to get back to their previous Premier League form on Saturday.

arsenal xg map last five Premier League games

Newcastle are hardly firing in anything like the same way, but they have arrested the recent slump which saw them lose six out of eight games from early December through to the new year. They come into this game on a five-game unbeaten run.

They have also seemingly turned a corner with regards to their away form. Approaching late January, they had only won away from home in the league once all season – the record-breaking 8-0 win at Sheffield United – but following back-to-back wins at Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, they’ll come into this game with a little more belief. They’re looking for their first win away to Arsenal since November 2010.

Shouty Managers

There seems to be an obsession at the moment with managers who are apparently too vocal, lively, expressive and loud on the touchlines, and Arsenal vs Newcastle brings together two men who seem to upset an awful lot of people.

Mikel Arteta attracts a surely disproportionate amount of ire from people who complain about his touchline antics, while Eddie Howe is far less active but certainly isn’t one to back down if it kicks off in the technical area. He also has a wind-up merchant in tow in Jason Tindall, the Newcastle assistant who clashed with Arteta at the Emirates last season, with the Arsenal boss apparently unhappy that Tindall had been leaving his technical area – clearly the most heinous of touchline crimes.

most yellow cards premier league managers 2023-24

Arteta has received more yellow cards this season (four) than any other Premier League manager. There’s a chance he’s treated more harshly than others given there’s so much discussion about his behaviour, but there is also the very real chance that he simply behaves worse than anyone else. He hasn’t got any since the turn of the year, though – the point at which Arsenal’s form took a turn for the better – suggesting he has been more contented in this recent run.

But given how past meetings between Arteta’s Arsenal and Howe’s Newcastle have gone, it would be no surprise if we see more cautions dished out to the managers. There’s little to suggest Arteta will be able to keep his cool in this grudge match.

Enjoy this? Subscribe to our new football newsletter to receive exclusive weekly content. You should also follow our social accounts over on XInstagramTikTok and Facebook.