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Newcastle vs. Arsenal: Key Battles to Watch on Premier League Final Day

Mikhail TurnerContributor IIIMay 15, 2013

Newcastle vs. Arsenal: Key Battles to Watch on Premier League Final Day

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    The Premier League has some intriguing last-round matches, and Newcastle vs. Arsenal certainly falls into that category.

    Newcastle doesn't have much to play for, but a spot in the Champions League is the prize for Arsenal should they win.

    There are some tough battles on the pitch that will decide the outcome of the game.

    The last time these teams met, Arsenal ran out 7-3 winners, with Theo Walcott bagging a hat-trick. 

    Here are some key battles to watch in this game.

     

    *Unless otherwise stated all statistics courtesy of ESPN FC.

Mathieu Debuchy vs. Lukas Podolski

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    Mathieu Debuchy has been ever-present since joining Newcastle midway through the season. He brings plenty of energy down the right flank, and is usually effective on both ends of the pitch.

    Lukas Podolski may be coming off a two-goal performance against Wigan, but Olivier Giroud's return will see him return to the left wing.

    Podolski will want to continue his good form, and has every chance of doing that against this Newcastle side, but it's his defensive contribution that will be needed.

    Should Arsenal's left-back on the day—presumably Kieran Gibbs—be left to deal with two attackers, it would spell trouble for the Gunners. 

Olivier Giroud vs. Fabricio Coloccini

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    Olivier Giroud is likely to return to the starting lineup to give Arsenal a physical presence up front.

    Fabricio Coloccini will be his marker on the day, and the battle between the two will be a good one.

    Giroud will have to quickly shake off any rust, and make sure to keep Coloccini occupied in all manners while bringing his teammates into the game. 

    The Frenchman could swing the game in his side's favour with a solid performance on the day. 

Cheick Tiote vs. Santi Cazorla

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    The midfield enforcer versus the midfield maestro sums up the battle between Cheick Tiote and Santi Cazorla.

    The Spanish midfielder picked up four assists against Wigan, and has been one of the Gunners best and most consistent players this season.

    Tiote will hope to hassle and harry him out of his comfort zone, and keep him away from the ball altogether. 

    If this battle is a stalemate or Tiote comes out on top, Newcastle will have a significant advantage. Arsenal have been a little overreliant on Cazorla this season.

    The Gunners playmaker will have to work hard to find space and create for his team in order to have a positive effect.

Kieran Gibbs vs. Hatem Ben Arfa

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    Another battle on the right side for Newcastle and the left for Arsenal shows just how important this side of the pitch will be.

    Like Lukas Podolski, Hatem Ben Arfa may not have a major effect stopping Kieran Gibbs going forward, but he can be just as devastating if left alone.

    Whether he's one-on-one with Kieran Gibbs or left alone when Arsenal are on the break, Ben Arfa can—and most likely will—punish the Arsenal back four. 

Papiss Cisse vs. Laurent Koscielny

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    Papiss Cisse's first full season in England has been a disappointing one. The Senegalese striker only has eight goals and two assists in 35 games this season.

    The goals started to flow a little after the arrival of Moussa Sissoko in January, but Cisse has failed to score in his last five games.

    Laurent Koscielny will still need to be focused to keep him under wraps, though, as Cisse has shown the ability to finish all sorts of chances. 

    If the Frenchman loses concentration and allows Cisse an opportunity or two, Arsenal could find themselves in trouble. 

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