As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

The domestic calendar in England was halted last week in a bid to reduce social gatherings and the Football Association confirmed its leagues would not return until at least the end of April.

While we cannot say for sure how this weekend's Premier League fixtures would have gone, our friends at Opta have come up with a system to predict the outcomes.

What chance would your team have had? Take a look below.

 

Predictor explainer:

The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.


 

BURNLEY v WATFORD

Home win: 49 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 25 per cent

Watford may have handed Liverpool their first defeat of the Premier League season, but with just one victory in their past three visits to Turf Moor it is Burnley who are expected to win by the predictor. Sean Dyche's side have gone unbeaten in seven top-flight matches to move into a more comfortable position in the middle of the table.

CHELSEA v MANCHESTER CITY

Home win: 30 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Manchester City are the pick to prevail at Stamford Bridge, a ground where Pep Guardiola has lost on two of his three Premier League visits. Kevin De Bruyne's winner in September 2017 fired City's charge to a 100-point title romp but goals from N'Golo Kante and David Luiz saw the Blues hand Guardiola's men the first league defeat of their triumphant 2018-19 campaign. Kante and De Bruyne were both on target when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium back in November, before Riyad Mahrez sealed a 2-1 comeback win for the hosts.

LEICESTER CITY v BRIGHTON

Home win: 62 per cent
Draw: 22 per cent
Away win: 16 per cent

Brighton won at Arsenal back in December, but that was just one of two away victories for the Seagulls so far in the Premier League this season, so their prospects at Leicester were inevitably looking bleak. After a worrying slump, Leicester looked to have rediscovered their mojo by the time the league ground to a halt, with Jamie Vardy back on the goal trail following a drought. Leicester’s nine wins at the King Power Stadium this term looked highly likely to become 10.

LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE

Home win: 76 per cent win
Draw: 16 per cent
Away win: 8 per cent

A predicted triumph for Liverpool at Anfield is by no means a surprise given they are on a top-flight record of 22 straight home wins. With just an eight per cent chance of winning, Palace had the lowest chance of victory in this round of fixtures. However, with City predicted to come out on top against Chelsea, the Reds' wait to clinch the Premier League title would have continued.

MANCHESTER UNITED v SHEFFIELD UNITED

Home win: 48 per cent
Draw: 30 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The halt in football action came at a bad time for Manchester United, who were on a magnificent roll - 11 matches unbeaten with eight victories. The Opta predictor backed the hosts to continue that run, but at 48 per cent, a home win was seen as far from a certainty. Amid an amazing season, Sheffield United are just two points behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men and at 30 per cent, it is the most likely contest on the matchday to end in a draw. That was also the outcome in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Bramall Lane in November.

NEWCASTLE UNITED v ASTON VILLA

Home win: 54 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 22 per cent

The predicted win for Newcastle is something Aston Villa – second from bottom and 10 points shy of Steve Bruce's men – could ill afford in reality. Newcastle are unbeaten in five matches at St James' Park, although that run includes three consecutive 0-0 draws. Villa have lost four in succession in the Premier League and only won three times in the top flight since beating the Magpies 2-0 in the corresponding fixture on November 25.

NORWICH CITY v EVERTON

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 26 per cent
Away win: 46 per cent

Norwich prop up the Premier League table and the predictor reflects as such, with Everton having a greater chance of victory on the road. The Toffees' last win at Carrow Road came in 2004, though, and Everton were beaten 2-0 at home by Daniel Farke's side back in November, Todd Cantwell and Dennis Srbeny with the goals at Goodison Park.

SOUTHAMPTON v ARSENAL

Home win: 28 per cent
Draw: 24 per cent
Away win: 48 per cent

Southampton’s resurgence during December and January had given way to a worrying patch of form over February and early March. Ralph Hasenhuttl's men did beat Aston Villa at home, but this Arsenal side under Mikel Arteta’s leadership are a different prospect to the team Saints held 2-2 in north London back in November. The Gunners are unbeaten in the Premier League in 2020, and they would have fancied claiming all three points on offer at St Mary's.

TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM

Home win: 70 per cent
Draw: 17 per cent
Away win: 13 per cent

The Hammers were not predicted to fare particularly well at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they did defy the odds with a 1-0 win at the same venue in April 2019, Michail Antonio scoring the winner. Tottenham were the victors in the reverse fixture this season, a 3-2 triumph in Jose Mourinho's first match in charge.

WOLVES V BOURNEMOUTH

Home win: 58 per cent
Draw: 23 per cent
Away win: 19 per cent

Wolves are unbeaten in all three of their Premier League matches against Bournemouth, including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture, and the predictor has them as the more likely winners on this matchday. That would come as a welcome relief to Wolves, who have won just one of their last five home top-flight matches, while Eddie Howe's men would be primed for a seventh consecutive away loss.

The Premier League has been suspended until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, so what does that mean for the rest of the season?

Decisions made by UEFA and CONMEBOL to push back Euro 2020 and the Copa America until 2021 opened the door for domestic competition to continue longer than initially planned.

Upon announcing a four-week extension to the initially planned hiatus on Thursday, the Football Association (FA) revealed it would allow its leagues to continue beyond the June 1 deadline set out in its regulations.

The eventual run-in could prove to be heavily congested. Some Premier League teams are still competing on three fronts, others possess a game in hand, while UEFA is still hoping for a round of international matches in June.

If no games are cut out, we look at how the calendar for English teams could hypothetically shape up if competitions across Europe were able to resume following April 30.

 

May 2/3 - Matchday 30

May 7 - Postponed Europa League last-16 first legs and unplayed matchday 29 games

May 9/10 - Matchday 31

May 12/13/14 - FA Cup quarter-finals

May 16/17 - Matchday 32

May 19/20/21 - Champions League and Europa League last-16 second legs

May 23/24 - Matchday 33

May 26/27/28 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final first legs

May 30/31 - Matchday 34

June 2/3/4 - Champions League and Europa League quarter-final second legs

June 6/7 - Matchday 35

June 13/14 - International week

June 20/21 - Matchday 36

June 23/24/25 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final first legs

June 27/28 - Matchday 37

June 30/July 1/2 - FA Cup semi-finals

July 4 - Matchday 38

July 7/8/9 - Champions League and Europa League semi-final second legs

July 11 - FA Cup final

July 15 - Europa League final

July 18 - Champions League final

Boxing icon Floyd Mayweather Jr suggested he might have an interest in buying Premier League club Newcastle United as he appeared at an event in England.

Mayweather boasts a 50-0 record but has not fought since defeating UFC star Conor McGregor in August 2017, although the 43-year-old has hinted at a rematch this year.

The former five-weight world champion has reportedly made $1billion in his career, however, and cheekily entertained the idea of investing his wealth in the Magpies during a talk in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Newcastle fans have been keen for a new owner on Tyneside since 2008 when current chief Mike Ashley caused outrage in a split with popular former manager Kevin Keegan.

Ashley went on to rename the club's St James' Park stadium after his sports retail company, oversaw two relegations and made a number of unpopular appointments.

Given the hunger for Ashley to move on, and with talk of rival takeover interest fading, Mayweather played to the crowd.

Asked if he was "very, very interested" in buying the club, he said: "In the US, we call it soccer, but the Newcastle football team is an unbelievable team, a hell of a team."

The American added to cheers: "If the people want me to buy the Newcastle team, let me know."

TMZ reported Mayweather had an interest in purchasing a stake in Newcastle, although no negotiations had taken place.

Newcastle are 13th in the Premier League, eight points clear of the bottom three after beating Southampton on Saturday, and will play holders Manchester City in the FA Cup quarter-finals later in March.

Manchester City could let Sergio Aguero leave at the end of the season, according to a report.

City were handed a two-season Champions League ban last month over Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches, although they are appealing the ruling.

However, that could lead to a big-name exit at the end of the campaign.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY COULD LET AGUERO LEAVE AT END OF SEASON

Manchester City are willing to let Aguero go if they fail to overturn the European ban, according to The Sun.

The report says the 31-year-old Argentina forward would be allowed to leave if he indicated he wanted to do so despite being contracted until 2021.

Aguero is the Premier League club's all-time leading goalscorer and is enjoying another fine campaign, netting 23 times in 29 games.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luka Jovic has struggled at Real Madrid and could be set for a switch. AS reports Napoli are considering a move for the 22-year-old forward, who has scored just twice this season after joining Madrid for a reported €60million from Eintracht Frankfurt.

- Chelsea seem ready to move on from goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Daily Express reports the Premier League club have been alerted to the potential availability of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who is said to be weighing up his future at Barcelona. The Mirror reports Chelsea are monitoring Dean Henderson, who has impressed on loan at Sheffield United from Manchester United.

- Also at Stamford Bridge, The Mirror reports Tammy Abraham has rejected a contract offer from Chelsea. Abraham – who has 15 goals this season – has a deal until 2022 but reportedly wants fresh terms similar to the club's other stars before recommitting.

- Looking to strengthen their defence, Manchester City are prepared to spend £80m (€92.5m) on Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, according to the Daily Express.

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang perhaps set for an Arsenal exit, CalcioMercato reports Inter are considering a move for the forward, who played for AC Milan's youth team but never made an appearance for the senior side.

- Everton are eyeing a move for Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin in the close season, according to The Sun.

Liverpool came from behind to beat Bournemouth 2-1 and set a record for the most consecutive home wins in England's top-flight history.

Jurgen Klopp's side edged closer to a first Premier League title thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, after Callum Wilson had put the Cherries ahead at Anfield.

Arsenal were given a tough time by West Ham before Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to drag them closer to the Champions League places, but Wolves slipped up against Brighton and Hove Albion.

At the foot of the table, Norwich City are beginning to look a lost cause, but Newcastle United gave their own survival hopes a real boost.

LACAZETTE KEEPS CHAMPIONS LEAGUE HOPES ALIVE

Arsenal are now five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and three adrift of Wolves in fifth after battling to a 1-0 win over West Ham.

David Moyes' side managed 14 shots to the Gunners' nine, hit the post through Jarrod Bowen and were thwarted more than once by Bernd Leno, but they were undone by substitute Lacazette with 12 minutes to play.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's shot deflected to Mesut Ozil, who headed the ball to Lacazette to allow the striker to lash home the winner, the goal awarded after a VAR check overturned the initial offside call.

Wolves are only three ahead of Mikel Arteta's side, having missed out on the chance to move into the top four after failing to break down Brighton in a 0-0 draw at Molineux.

 

CENTURION SALAH GETS REDS BACK ON TRACK

Having lost three of their past four games across all competitions, Liverpool's Anfield home was not exactly in good spirits when Wilson tapped in Jefferson Lerma's cross to give Bournemouth a ninth-minute lead.

Bournemouth, though, are a team who had lost their previous five league games against Liverpool by an aggregate score of 17-0, so banking on them keeping the leaders at bay was always a long shot.

Unfortunately for Eddie Howe, Bournemouth rather gifted Liverpool their goals. Salah scored his 70th Liverpool goal in his 100th league appearance after Jack Simpson carelessly lost the ball to Mane, and it was 2-1 before the break when the visitors gave up possession in midfield and Virgil van Dijk played Mane in to score.

It was not a vintage display, but it did give Liverpool a record 22nd top-flight home victory in a row and put them 25 points clear at the top. Bournemouth remain 18th, behind Watford on goal difference, the Hornets having lost 1-0 at Crystal Palace.

MAGPIES ON THE UP BUT CANARIES ARE IN TROUBLE

Newcastle's run of five league games without a win - and four without a goal - came to an end with a 1-0 defeat of Southampton on the south coast.

Matt Ritchie, who signed a new contract at Newcastle this week, saw a penalty saved in the first half, not long after Moussa Djenepo had been sent off in a separate incident for a reckless challenge on Isaac Hayden, but Allan Saint-Maximin struck 79 minutes in to lift the Magpies eight points above the bottom three.

Norwich, though, are still six points from safety after a Billy Sharp goal and another fine performance from Dean Henderson saw them lose 1-0 at Sheffield United, who sit sixth.

Newcastle United duo Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie have signed new contracts with the Premier League club until 2023.

Shelvey joined Newcastle from Swansea City in 2016 and, after falling out of favour last season, he has been more of a regular this term.

The midfielder has made 16 Premier League appearances in 2019-20 and scored five goals, three more than he had managed in his previous 61 top-flight games for the club.

Shelvey and Ritchie previously had contracts until the end of June 2021, but Newcastle have moved to secure the futures of both players.

Winger Ritchie, 30, missed most of the first half of the season with an ankle injury, but quickly reintegrated after his return to fitness and has played 10 matches across all competitions since finding fitness at the start of the year.

FA Cup holders Manchester City face a trip to Newcastle United in the quarter-finals.

Pep Guardiola's men were unconvincing in their fifth-round clash with Championship side Sheffield Wednesday, Sergio Aguero scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.

City's reward is a trip to St James' Park, where they were held to a 2-2 Premier League draw in November.

Chelsea, who knocked out runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool on Tuesday, will visit fellow Champions League chasers Leicester City.

Arsenal's quest to extend their competition record to 14 titles next takes them to Bramall Lane, the Gunners having suffered a 1-0 defeat there in October when Unai Emery was still at the helm.

Derby County, the sole remaining non-Premier League side in the competition, will travel to Norwich City should they stun Manchester United on Thursday.

Wednesday's clash between Tottenham and Norwich was locked at 1-1 in extra time, but Tim Krul denied Gedson Fernandes in a penalty shoot-out to send the Canaries through.

The quarter-final matches will be played on the weekend of March 20-22.

 

Draw in full:

Sheffield United v Arsenal
Newcastle United v Manchester City
Norwich City v Derby County/Manchester United
Leicester City v Chelsea

Chelsea dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge, while Newcastle United and Sheffield United also moved into the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Watford inflicted a shock first Premier League defeat on runaway leaders Liverpool on Saturday and they suffered a third loss in their past four games in all competitions three days later.

Adrian's howler gifted Willian the opening goal 13 minutes in and there was no way back for Jurgen Klopp's side after Ross Barkley doubled Chelsea's lead in the second half.

Kepa Arrizabalaga impressed on his return to the Chelsea team, making a flurry of saves in quick succession in the first half on a frustrating evening for a much stronger Reds side than they fielded in previous rounds.

Newcastle reached the last eight for the first time since 2006, ending their goal drought to beat Championship leaders West Brom 3-2.

The Magpies had gone three games without a goal, but Miguel Almiron's first-half brace and Valentino Lazaro's finish put them three up. 

Matt Phillips pulled one back and although Kenneth Zohore added a second in stoppage time, that could not prevent Newcastle from putting their name in the hat.

Sheffield United needed extra time to get past Reading, Billy Sharp nodding in the winner after a George Puscas penalty cancelled out David McGoldrick's opener.

Marcos Alonso's 85th-minute equaliser earned Chelsea a 2-2 draw at Bournemouth as Frank Lampard's men missed the chance to go six points clear in fourth.

The Blues would have put some breathing room between themselves and Manchester United, who travel to Everton on Sunday, but they only claimed a share of the spoils as Alonso's brace was sandwiched between goals from Jefferson Lerma and Joshua King.

West Ham moved out of the bottom three as they beat Southampton 3-1, Jarrod Bowen marking his first start for the Hammers with a goal.

Jordan Ayew's strike earned Crystal Palace a 1-0 success at out-of-sorts Brighton and Hove Albion, while Newcastle United's home clash with Burnley ended goalless.

 

ALONSO'S ACTION-PACKED WEEK CONTINUES

Chelsea were looking to bounce back from their 3-0 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich on Tuesday, a game in which Alonso was sent off seven minutes from time.

The full-back retained his place at Bournemouth and scored for the second successive Premier League game to put Chelsea ahead only for Lerma and King to net within three minutes of each other in the second half.

Alonso headed in a late equaliser, though, as Chelsea moved four points clear of United and five above Tottenham and Sheffield United, all of whom have a game in hand.

BOWEN'S HOME BOW LEAVES HAMMERS HAPPY

David Moyes' West Ham won for the first time in eight Premier League games to climb above Aston Villa and Bournemouth up into 16th.

Bowen, who moved to London Stadium from Hull City for a reported £20million in January, scored the opening goal.

Although Michael Obafemi levelled, Sebastien Haller restored the hosts' lead before half-time and Michail Antonio made sure of the points.

EAGLES MARK HODGSON'S CENTURY WITH WIN

Croydon-born Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson took charge of his 100th top-flight game with the club at Brighton.

Ayew's second-half winner ensured Hodgson had extra cause to celebrate as they got one over their rivals.

Defeat for the Seagulls extended their winless run to eight Premier League games and they remain without a top-flight victory in 2020.

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

In the late game, Manchester City put seven points between themselves and third-placed Leicester City with a 1-0 win at the King Power Stadium.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

JESUS CITY'S SAVIOUR AFTER AGUERO’S PENALTY MISS

Sergio Aguero became the latest City player to miss a penalty before Gabriel Jesus scored a late winner in a 1-0 victory at Leicester.

Aguero's second-half spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel, with four different City players having failed to convert their last four Premier League penalties.

Yet Jesus, brought on for Aguero, slotted past Schmeichel 10 minutes from time to move City seven points clear of third-placed Leicester.

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Frank Lampard once again got the better of his former manager Jose Mourinho as Chelsea beat Tottenham 2-1 to boost their top-four hopes.

Ex-Blues midfielder Lampard saw his side complete a Premier League double over Spurs at Stamford Bridge in Saturday's early kick-off.

It was a good day elsewhere for fourth-placed Chelsea too, as Sheffield United dropped points at home, drawing 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion.

Struggling Aston Villa and Bournemouth both suffered away defeats but Crystal Palace moved above Newcastle United with a 1-0 success at Selhurst Park.

 

LONDON DERBY DELIGHT FOR CHELSEA

Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso rewarded Lampard's faith in them by marking their returns to the starting line-up with goals.

Striker Giroud scored his first club goal since August before Alonso doubled the lead prior to the break, with Chelsea hanging on despite a late own goal from Antonio Rudiger.

In leading his side to home and away Premier League victories over Tottenham in 2019-20, Lampard became the first boss to beat a team managed by Mourinho in both league fixtures in a single season.

Chelsea moved four points clear of both Spurs and Sheffield United, who were held by Brighton at Bramall Lane as Enda Stevens' opener was cancelled out by Neal Maupay.

 

SAINTS AND EAGLES BOOST SURVIVAL HOPES

Southampton moved 10 points clear of the bottom three thanks to goals 87 minutes apart from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong in a 2-0 triumph over Villa.

Roy Hodgson's Palace claimed their first victory of 2020 as Patrick van Aanholt's free-kick on the stroke of half-time proved enough to beat Newcastle, who lost Valentino Lazaro to a late red card.

Bournemouth were unable to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three, however, as they went down 3-0 at Turf Moor.

The Cherries had two goals disallowed in the defeat to Burnley, who moved up to eighth thanks to second-half goals from Matej Vydra, Jay Rodriguez and Dwight McNeil.

Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus is reportedly wanted by Serie A giants Juventus.

Jesus, 22, has struggled for regular game time since arriving at City from Palmeiras in early 2017.

And Juve may be prepared to take the Brazil international to Turin.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS WANT MAN CITY'S JESUS

Juventus want Jesus in a €69.9million (£58.5m) move, according to The Sun.

The report adds the Serie A champions also want Mauro Icardi, who is on loan at Paris Saint-Germain from Inter.

Jesus has scored 36 goals in 90 Premier League games for City, but just 48 of those have been starts.

ROUND-UP

- With his contract at Real Madrid ending in 2021, Sergio Ramos seemingly wants a new deal. AS reports the Madrid captain, 33, wants a further two years on his deal, but the LaLiga giants are not keen to offer it.

- Paulo Dybala looks likely to re-sign at Juventus. CalcioMercato reports the playmaker is getting closer to a renewal with the club with his current contract expiring in 2022.

- Amid Liverpool's reported interest in RB Leipzig star Timo Werner, Roberto Firmino has been linked with a stunning move to Bayern Munich. However, Goal reports the Premier League leaders' front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino are "going nowhere" at the end of the season.

- Newcastle United remain keen to sign Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare. Le 10 Sport says the Premier League club are continuing to press for the 20-year-old to make the move after being unable to get a deal done in January.

- Arsenal are eager to re-sign Bukayo Saka. The 18-year-old, who has impressed at left-back, is in talks over a lucrative long-term deal, according to The Times.

Mikel Arteta insisted he is "not conflicted at all" by Manchester City's looming UEFA ban after Arsenal thrashed Newcastle United to move within sight of the European places in the Premier League.

Former City assistant coach Arteta oversaw a 4-0 defeat of Newcastle on Sunday, but the news Pep Guardiola's side are facing a two-year suspension from European competition dominated the weekend.

While City have announced an intention to appeal the ban, there is the possibility fifth could now secure Champions League qualification, with the Europa League potentially in reach for a team in eighth depending on who wins the domestic cups.

Arsenal are 10th, lifted by second-half goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, but Arteta was not looking to revel in his former employers' gloom.

"We don't know anything about it," he told Sky Sports. "We will have to wait and see.

"It's very difficult. I'm not conflicted at all. I want the best for Manchester City, the best for Pep, for the players.

"I love a lot of people there and I am so grateful for the time I spent there. The only thing I want for them is positive and good things.

"I just want to do the best we can for Arsenal, to achieve ourselves what we deserve."

Arsenal were poor before half-time against Newcastle, making a slow start and surviving the occasional scare, and Arteta is not getting carried away.

"We want to go game by game because, 10 days ago, I was disappointed by the game at Burnley," he said. "A lot of things are going to happen.

"It's up to us and how consistent we can be from now until the end of the season. If we want to have a chance [of qualifying for Europe] in the last few games, we have to put wins together."

Asked what Arteta told his team after the tough first half, captain Aubameyang said: "'Just keep going'. We started not at our best.

"But in the second half, we put in some more energy and we went through and scored the first, the second, the third."

On the coach's overall impact at Emirates Stadium since his December appointment, the striker added: "We feel better. We have an idea of playing that's very clear.

"We'll try to maintain this level. We are happy to keep going like this."

Alexandre Lacazette scored for the first time since December to put the gloss on a much-needed 4-0 win for Arsenal and head coach Mikel Arteta against Newcastle United on Sunday.

Arsenal came into the clash at Emirates Stadium level on points with visitors Newcastle, having won just six times in the Premier League this season - and only once since Arteta's December appointment.

But after a frustrating opening period, the influential Nicolas Pepe laid on a goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 54th minute, and Pepe himself scored three minutes later to all but settle the contest.

Mesut Ozil added another in the 90th minute, before substitute Lacazette, who last netted against Standard Liege on December 12, got in on the act in stoppage time.

Arteta, who revealed before the match he turned down an approach from Newcastle while still an assistant at Manchester City, could enjoy the closing stages of a precious victory, with Arsenal climbing back up to 10th and within sight of the European places.

Newcastle's set-pieces had caused early problems for Arsenal, and Sean Longstaff's deflected strike forced a scrambling save from Bernd Leno, before Joelinton awkwardly stabbed wide from six yards moments later.

Martin Dubravka was not troubled for over half an hour, but Arsenal pressure built heading into half-time as the Newcastle goalkeeper made stops from Aubameyang, Eddie Nketiah and Pepe.

The hosts were on the front foot again following the restart, and Pepe danced to the byline before cutting a cross back for Nketiah, who volleyed against the crossbar.

The opener soon followed, with Aubameyang towering over Valentino Lazaro to head Pepe's right-wing delivery across Dubravka into the bottom-right corner.

And the second came less than three minutes after the first, as Bukayo Saka nutmegged Lazaro on the left and squared for Pepe to sweep low inside the near post.

Ciaran Clark skewed wide from a great position in the area when teed up by Allan Saint-Maximin, who himself hit the post with a fine curling effort, but there was no dramatic Newcastle recovery.

Ozil's close-range finish deceived Dubravka for a scruffy third Arsenal goal, before Lacazette's own slightly untidy effort found the top-right corner to spark a joyous celebration.


What does it mean? Arsenal still finding their feet

There was some hope Arteta might have shaped a much-improved Arsenal over the recent mid-season break, but that did not appear to be the case in the first half. The Gunners struggled to break Newcastle down, before their quality came to the fore in a frantic spell. There would appear to be plenty still to do to restore Arsenal to their former glories despite this big win.

Purposeful Pepe

This has not been a wholly successful first season in England for Pepe, but there are signs he is rediscovering the form that convinced Arsenal to splash out a club-record fee last year. The winger was Arsenal's best player in a testing first half and then turned the game on its head with an assist and a goal within 12 minutes of the restart.

Lazaro loses out

Newcastle's new wing-back, making his full Premier League debut, enjoyed a promising first half, getting forward to good effect down the right while standing up to Saka going the other way. But he was later twice beaten for the crucial goals, first unable to challenge Aubameyang in the air and then embarrassed by Saka's trickery.

What's next?

Arsenal have a trip to Olympiacos in the Europa League on Thursday before their next league assignment at home to Everton. Newcastle have a clear midweek but are then back in the capital next Saturday to visit Crystal Palace.

Eddie Nketiah was selected for a first Premier League start in Arsenal's game against Newcastle United on Saturday.

The 20-year-old was expected to go back out on loan after being recalled from Championship side Leeds United due to a lack of game time in January, but Mikel Arteta opted to retain his services.

After featuring as a substitute against Sheffield United and Burnley, Nketiah was chosen to lead the line against Newcastle at Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Nketiah was joined in the front three by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe, with Alexandre Lacazette and Gabriel Martinelli dropping to the bench.

Dani Ceballos was handed a place in a Premier League starting line-up for the first time since a 1-1 draw with Wolves on November 2.

Arsenal spent their mid-season break on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, while Newcastle were granted an extended weekend off.

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