Arsenal host Newcastle United at the Emirates tonight, and a fierce clash is expected as both teams have a lot to play for.
The hosts can move to third in the table and boost their top-four hopes with a victory, while the visitors will edge closer to safety with at least a point.
Arsenal have lost only one league game at home this term, drawing twice and winning the other 13, while Newcastle have just two wins on the road, drawing seven and losing six others.
Unai Emery’s men remain favourites on paper, but Rafa Benitez’s side are brimming with confidence after losing just two of their last nine league games.
“All attention focuses on tonight’s visit of a Newcastle side still not mathematically safe from the threat of relegation,” Smith told Evening Standard.
“Every game for Rafa Benitez is a vital one, given his tug of war with owner Mike Ashley, whose idea of ambition does not entirely match that of the Spaniard’s.
“That said, more than £20m was recently invested in Miguel Almiron, a lively forward taken from the MLS who is slowly getting to grips with the hike in standards. Factor in the form of centre-forward Salomon Rondon and the improved output from Ayoze Perez and you have a team deserving respect.”
The Venezuelan striker has nine goals and five assists for Newcastle this term, while the Spaniard has six goals and two assists.
The Mexican has featured in just six league games since arriving in January, but is slowing becoming the team’s chief creator.
Newcastle have already handed Manchester City defeat this term, and they will be eager to cause another upset against one of the big boys when they play Arsenal.