5 min: Paul Dummett fouls Nicolas Pepe, giving Arsenal a free-kick about 25 yards from the Newcastle goal, a little to the right of the D. Willian drives the ball straight into the defensive wall. A very poor knee-high effort from the Brazilian.
1 min: Newcastle get the ball rolling, their bench a little light after Jonjo Shelvey and Callum Wilson were withdrawn from their squad this morning for unspecified reasons that may or may not be related to Covid-19.
Martinelli is out. The footage of Martinelli’s injury does not look at all good – I think he’s wrenched his knee. He’s been taken out of Arsenal’s starting line-up and will be replaced by Reiss Nelson.
Great news for Arsenal fans: Gabriel Martinelli has managed to injure himself during a game of rondo in the warm-up, over-stretching himself to try to keep possession of the ball and doing himself some sort of mischief. He’s receiving treatment but it doesn’t look good.
Arsenal: There’s no place for Runar Runarsson in goal for Arsenal, following the error he made when given a chance against Manchester City in the League Cup. He’s on the bench, with Bernd Leno starting between the sticks.
Mikel Arteta does make seven changes, affording some of the senior players who have let him so down badly this season an opportunity to redeem themselves (or let him down again), while giving other fringe players a run-out.
Cedric and David Luiz start in defence, while Mohamed Elneny and Joe Willock are in the centre of midfield. Willian, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe, and Gabriel Martinelli also come in.
Allan Saint-Maximin (Covid), Jamal Lewis (knee) and Ryan Fraser (groin) remain sidelined for Newcastle, while Jamaal Lascelles is in line for a recall as he recovers from the delilitating effects of the Covid-19 virus, which has kept him out since November.
For Arsenal, Gabriel will miss out after testing positive for Covid, but Thomas Partey is expected to return from his latest injury set-back.
Alex Runarsson, Cedric Soares, Ainsley Maitlanbd-Niles and Joe Willock are among a host of reserves and fringe players who could get a run out this evening.
Holders Arsenal begin their defence of the FA Cup with what, on paper at least, looks like a reasonably straightforward home tie against a woefully out-of-sorts Newcastle.
In 15th place in the Premier League and on the slide, Newcastle are expected to make what are known in football parlance as “wholesale changes”, while it would be no surprise to see Mikel Arteta give some fringe players a run-out this evening.
Kick-off at the Emirates Stadium is at 5.30pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.