Arsenal were beaten 2-1 by Villarreal in the UEFA Europa League, a game the Spanish side dominated, which stretched the Gunners’ winless run in all competitions to three games.
Mikel Arteta’s side had to rely on a late equaliser against Fulham and were beaten by Everton in their last two league games.
Newcastle United, meanwhile, picked up a morale-boosting last-gasp draw against Liverpool and will look for an upset against the embattled Gunners.
Newcastle United will come out on top against Arsenal, says Lawrenson
With a season-defining second leg against Villarreal coming up next week, Arteta might rest some of his first-team regulars for the Newcastle game.
Lawrenson feels Newcastle’s good form coupled with Arsenal’s low confidence could prove pivotal for the Magpies when the two teams face off on Sunday.
“Arsenal's priority has to be the Europa League now, because it is the only way they are getting into Europe next season. The Gunners are extremely inconsistent at the best of times, and I just have a feeling Newcastle will come out on top here. Part of that is down to the Magpies' form - they have won two and drawn two of their past four games - but they also have their big guns back in attack, and they have made a big difference,” Lawrenson wrote in his column for BBC Sport.
Newcastle are nine points ahead of Fulham in the battle for survival and need another win to ensure the Cottagers don’t catch up with them in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta will be aware that Arsenal only have a mathematical chance of finishing in the Europa League spots through the league. For the Gunners to play in the Champions League next season, they will have to overcome their 1-2 first-leg deficit against Villarreal and go on to win the final.
Mikel Arteta could hand some of the younger players increased game time in the league, but the Gunners cannot afford to lose too many games as the season draws to a close.