Newcastle United vs. Arsenal: Complete Premier League Preview
There may only be one game left in the Premier League season, but Arsenal still have plenty to play for. After a surging run in the latter portion, they're now set to pip Tottenham to the post for Champions League qualification. A win on the final day would seal the deal.
Newcastle have already achieved their primary aim of surviving relegation. Their win at Loftus Road last week left them home and dry. Manager Alan Pardew was so relieved he even said he didn't mind if they were thrashed in this fixture.
Since then, he's retracted that statement. Newcastle have a responsibility to give Arsenal a competitive game, and will hope to cause an upset that propels Tottenham in to the top four at Arsenal's expense.
Newcastle will look to Hatem Ben Arfa to unlock the Arsenal defence. Such is his importance to the Magpies that he was asked to play through the pain barrier to help them in their relegation battle.
Arsenal's key man is creative midfielder Santi Cazorla. The Spaniard assisted all four goals in their recent victory over Wigan and will hope to cause similar damage on Tyneside.
Form and Previous Meetings
Newcastle have had a difficult season but a victory at QPR last week transformed their fortunes and ensured they will be in the Premier League next season. The relief at St. James' was palpable.
Arsenal fans will remember the 2011 iteration of this fixture with a huge degree of anxiety. Arsenal led by four goals at half-time, only to be pegged back by a remarkable second half culminating in a last-gasp Cheick Tiote equaliser.
Gunners fans will be hoping for less drama in this particular match.
Team News and Potential Starting Lineups
Newcastle's major change will be in goal. Rob Elliot is suspended after being sent off at QPR. With first choice Tim Krul still out injured, veteran Steve Harper will be called upon for what could be his final game for the club.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa is set to continue at left-back in place of Massadio Haidara.
Arsenal could make a change at left-back. Although Kieran Gibbs impressed in their last match against Wigan, Arsene Wenger has generally preferred to field Nacho Monreal away from home.
Mikel Arteta is likely to miss out with a calf problem, so Jack Wilshere could step up from the bench to take his place.
Olivier Giroud has returned from a three-match suspension and should come straight in to the side in place of Lukas Podolski.
For Arsenal, the situation couldn't be clearer: win and they are guaranteed to beat Tottenham to a top-four spot.
In fact, all they need to do is match Tottenham's result against Sunderland. After Arsenal's mid-week victory over Wigan helped secure the Mackems' safety, the Gunners will be hoping for a favour from Paolo Di Canio's side to ease their path in to the Champions League.
Incredibly, should Chelsea draw at home to Everton and Arsenal win by a single goal while scoring two more than Chelsea, the two London sides will end the season level on points, goal difference and goals scored. This would call for a historic application of the Premier League's C14 rule, forcing the two sides to meet in a one-off play-off for third place.
Newcastle don't have too much to play for. However, if results go their way, they could finish as high as 10th, which would be remarkable for a side threatened with relegation just one week ago.
Generally in these end of season matches, the side with more at stake emerges victorious.
Arsenal should be too strong for a Newcastle side who recently shipped six goals at home to Liverpool.
The Gunners should have enough to triumph and take the remaining Champions League qualification spot.
Newcastle 1 - 3 Arsenal
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