Venue: The Emirates Stadium
Kick-off: 20:00 (BST)
TV Info: NBC Sports Network (12:00 PM Pacific), Sky Sports 1 HD (UK).
Arsenal welcome Newcastle United to the Emirates Stadium on Monday night, in a clash where the Gunners could virtually seal their qualification to the Champions League with a win.
Following a horrendous run of form during the last two months, Arsene Wenger’s men seem to have turned a corner in recent times and look favourites to fend off the challenge of Everton by claiming the fourth and final Champions League spot.
However, the Gunners have a habit of making things difficult for themselves and should treat Newcastle United with respect despite the fact that the Magpies have been in a poor run of form.
Arsenal’s opponents, Newcastle United are plagued with problems at the moment. It is clear to see that there is unrest within Magpies faithful and they have not been afraid to express their displeasure at owner Mike Ashley and manager Alan Pardew for their running of the club.
Currently on a woeful run of consecutive defeats, Newcastle United cannot wait for the end of the campaign to come soon enough. That being said, Pardew must be fighting for his life to save his job and will certainly demand his players to turn things around when they visit the Emirates on Monday night.
Arsene Wenger will be without the services of Thomas Vermaelen, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Abou Diaby for the clash but Mathieu Flamini is available for selection after serving his 2-match ban.
After such a fine win over Hull City last week, Wenger will surely not want to make too many changes to his side. Wojciech Szczesny is a certain starter in goal and the Polish international will be shielded by a defence consisting of Nacho Monreal, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Bacary Sagna.
Arsenal’s midfield seem to have been rejuvenated by the return of Mesut Ozil and the German star looks set to start in a creative role alongside Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski. Mikel Arteta and the impressive Aaron Ramsey look most likely to be marshalling the midfield. The likes of Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini, Kim Kallstorm and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are good alternatives if Wenger decides to change things around.
Olivier Giroud will be leading the line once again and will be looking continue his good run of form in front of goal.
Alan Pardew will be without the services of Papiss Cisse, Gabriel Obertan, Ryan Taylor, Davide Santon and Sammy Ameobi while Hatem Ben Arfa, Luuk De Jong and Moussa Sissoko are doubts. However, there is a huge boost for the Magpies with the news that Loic Remy and Mathieu Debuchy could make a return to the starting lineup after a long injury layoff.
Tim Krul looks likely to start in goal and the Dutch international will protected by the back four consisting of Debuchy, Fabricio Coloccini, Mike Williamson and Paul Dummett.
With the return of Debuchy, Vernon Anita should shift into midfield alongside Cheick Tioté while Dan Gosling will probably move into the wings with Yoann Gouffran deployed on the other channel. Loic Remy looks set to start in attack and he will most probably be supported by Shola Ameobi.
Arsenal (Probable XI): Szczesny; Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Sagna; Podolski, Arteta, Ozil, Ramsey, Cazorla; Giroud
Newcastle United (Probable XI): Krul; Dummett, Williamson, Coloccini, Debuchy; Gosling, Anita, Tiote, Gouffran; Remy, Ameobi
Arsenal: D L D* W W
Newcastle United: L L L L L
*Arsenal won on penalties
29/12/2013 Newcastle United 0 – 1 Arsenal
19/05/2013 Newcastle United 0 – 1 Arsenal
Newcastle United seem to be losing against any team they come up against and with Arsenal the opponents next, not many are giving the Magpies any hope.
Arsenal seem to be hitting form at the right time and could yet salvage their campaign with a fourth placed finish as well as a FA Cup triumph. On the other hand, Newcastle United have nothing to play for and are just stumbling across the finish line.
That being said, there is perhaps no manager in the Premier League under more pressure than Alan Pardew and he will certainly not be giving up as his job seems to be on the line.
Arsenal look overwhelming favourites for the clash but should avoid complacency despite Newcastle’s troubles. If they do so, the Gunners will surely run out comfortable winners.
Arsenal 3 – 0 Newcastle United