Newcastle United’s Martin Dubravka has warned Arsenal that his side are “mentally and physically refreshed” as they look to shock the Gunners, who were referred to as the Magpies ‘midtable rivals’ in at least one article this week.
Like Arsenal, Newcastle players have been on a mini-winter break and have just returned to training ahead of the Premier League’s return this weekend.
Keeper Dubravka, 31, said: “We had so many games in a row, so these few days off definitely helped us to heal injuries.
“But football is not only a physical thing, mentally it’s also very difficult sometimes, so it was perfect timing – and we can win against the big teams.”
Arsenal left Dubai to return to London on Tuesday with Mikel Arteta claiming the time away was like a mini-preseason for his side, giving him a good chance to work properly with the players instead of having to play a match every couple of days.
Ahead of the game, Arteta said, “We take it game by game. The input, the work ethic and the commitment they have been having through training and games has been really good.
“They know how crucial it is going to be in the next three to four weeks and until the end of the season. They are very aware of that and have a really good mindset towards that, they are highly motivated.
“I wanted to give them a few days rest because they went through a lot of things in the last few months. After that, we reflected on what we did together in the last five or six weeks since I joined, the things we improved and are very positive and we have to maintain, and also the things we need to improve and develop.
“We worked really well, we agreed and set some targets and we have started to work on them and hopefully we can see the outcome in the next few weeks.”