Magpie Isaac Hayden relishes double crack at former club Arsenal

Newcastle midfielder Isaac Hayden battles against Preston last season. Picture by Frank Reid.
Newcastle midfielder Isaac Hayden battles against Preston last season. Picture by Frank Reid.

Isaac Hayden is hoping Newcastle United can bite the hand that fed him next season.

Hayden is relishing lining up against Arsenal in the Premier League, having left the London club last summer.

The midfielder helped Newcastle win promotion to the Premier League in his first season at St James’s Park.

And the club’s two meetings with Arsenal were the first Hayden looked for when the fixture list came out earlier this month.

United face Arsene Wenger’s side at the Emirates Stadium on December 16, while the return fixture on Tyneside is on April 14.

“That is the first fixture that I was going to look for, home and away,” said Hayden, who reluctantly left Arsenal in search of first-team football after a year-long loan at Hull City.

“It’s a hard one. I still have a place in my heart for Arsenal, because I was there for eight years. It was a massive part of my development, and a massive part of me as a person.

“I can never forget that, and I have got a lot to thank them for in terms of the staff and the players and everybody that was there.

“But come next season, hopefully we can do the double over them.

“There would be nothing better than doing that, I can tell you that now.”

Newcastle played in front of sell-out crowds at St James’s Park last season. One of the defining moments of the Championship campaign, for Hayden, was the moment United clinched the title.

Aston Villa’s late equaliser against Brighton and Hove Albion on the final day of the season saw Rafa Benitez’s side crowned champions.

Reflecting on the backing the club got in English football’s second tier, the 22-year-old said: “It was unbelievable. This is what you come to expect now, it’s almost like we are lucky.

“We almost take it for granted the fans we have got here, and to have them singing the way they were all game...

“When Villa scored, obviously there was elation for the fans and just the celebrations were brilliant.

“Hopefully, next season we can give them something to shout about in the Premier League.”

l Striker Sam Baldock has signed a new three-year contract at Premier League new boys Brighton, keeping him at the Amex Stadium until the end of the 2019/20 season. He hit 12 goals in last season’s promotion success.