This is it, the final game of the season (unless we have to play-off against Chelsea) in which Arsenal have the opportunity to decide their Champions League fate. Earning that opportunity has been a hard task, but after early season inconsistencies, the Gunners have finally become a resilient force. It has been rewarding to see Arsenal grind out those difficult victories, particularly when you suffer from nerves like I do!
There is no doubt Arsene has some big decisions to make this week and it begins at the front with Olivier Giroud back in contention for a starting spot. Podolski is clinical, but his link up play and his ability to lead the line in general has been well below par. Yes, Giroud is the better all round sole striker, but give Poldi a chance and he’ll put it in the back of the net. We need to score, so I would personally prefer Poldi, but it is more than likely that Wenger will recall Giroud.
Another talking point is the likely absence of Spaniard Mikel Arteta, who suffered a calf injury last week against Wigan. Arsene has already suggested his obvious replacement, Jack Wilshere. In the Englishman we don’t lose anything in the way of quality and you know he will battle to the end no matter what. The rest of the team will no doubt remain the same as last week.
Looking at the other side of the pitch, although Newcastle have suffered from a few injuries, they still possess quality in their ranks. Ben Arfa, Cisse and Tiote are the danger men who are likely to start tomorrow and there is no way Arsenal should go into the match with any complacency. We need to be focussed and we need to be on our game from the first whistle!
I’m amped and ready for Arsenal to show those Spuds where they belong! Come on you Gunners!
For the weekend, we have the uncertainty over Mikel Arteta, who had to come off just before the end of the Wigan game with a calf strain. Honestly, his chances of being available are minimal. I have to be realistic and prepare for another solution.
on the overall injury situation…
Everybody else should be alright. There are no other real uncertainties.
on Wilshere replacing Arteta…
He is an option yes. We will monitor him until Sunday and I will make a decision very late over what I will do.
on Giroud’s return…
I am happy to have him back. He missed some games and will be full of enthusiasm.
Sagna Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs
Ramsey Wilshere (c)
- If only the second half of Premier League matches counted this season, Arsenal would be top with 71 points, three points ahead of Manchester City.
- Of sides that Newcastle have faced more than twice at St James Park, only against Manchester United (21%) have they won a lower proportion of their games than versus Arsenal (28%).
- Arsenal won the reverse fixture 7-3, it was the only time that the Magpies have conceded seven goals in a Premier League match.
- Newcastle have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games against Arsenal (W1 D5 L5).
- Newcastle have failed to score in two successive Premier League home games. They last failed to score in three in a row back in August 2007 (six games).
- Arsenal have won four successive Premier League away games. The last time that the Gunners won five in a row away in the competition was back in September 2004.
- Four different Arsenal players (Walcott, Cazorla, Giroud & Podolski) have scored 10 or more goals in the Premier League this season, meaning that the Gunners are only the fourth side in history to have four players reach double figures in a single PL campaign.
- Just four players have reached double figures in both goal and assist categories in the Premier League this season, with two of these being Arsenal players (Theo Walcott has 14 goals, 10 assists and Santi Cazorla has 12 goals, 11 assists).
- The Spaniard assisted four goals in Arsenal’s midweek win over Wigan, becoming only the fourth player to do this in a Premier League game in the last 10 seasons.
Newcastle 0 Arsenal 3