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It's that magical time of year again. Theo Walcott is dancing up and down touchlines, Santi Claus is coming to town and Arsenal are out searching for Arsene Wenger's version of silverware.
Yeah, that's a cheap shot directed at Arsene Wenger, but the man actually deserves a bit of credit this season. After selling captain, best player and silver fox Robin van Persie to Manchester United last summer, Wenger has his team right back in contention for a top-four finish and yet another season of Champions League football.
Go crazy, Gooners.
All Arsenal need is a win over Newcastle at Newcastle on Sunday and fourth place (maybe even third, but more on that momentarily) will belong to them. Newcastle, it should be noted, have nothing to play for after recently securing their Premiership status, and manager Alan Pardew has been saying silly things (per Goal.com) about losing to Arsenal (but, honestly, it was all a joke!)
Arsenal should win, if only because of the motivation factor, but any truth-telling Gooner would admit to some level of nervousness. The squad, despite the proximity of that fourth-place trophy, needs strengthening, and finishing in the top four is vital to reaping financial rewards brought by Champions League qualification. In fact, reports out of Spain indicate Gonzalo Higuain could be on his way to North London if the Gunners qualify (via Daily Mirror).
Speaking of Spain, a pint-sized Spaniard figures to once again be a key figure this weekend. Besides appearing in impossibly adorable photos like the one you see at left, Santi Cazorla on Tuesday provided all four assists as Arsenal defeated Wigan, 4-1, at the Emirates Stadium to regain fourth place. It was an appropriate end to the home campaign for Arsenal and Cazorla, who has often been his club's best player this season.
That last part is debatable, of course. What's undeniable is that when Cazorla is playing well, so are Arsenal. Just consider him, as others already have, Arsenal's gift-giving Santi Claus.
His greatest gift yet would be another season in the Champions League.