How Arsenal Will Line Up Against Newcastle United

Charlie MelmanCorrespondent IIApril 27, 2014

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29: Loic Remy of  Newcastle United is closed down by Jack Wilshere (L) and Tomas Rosicky of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on December 29, 2013 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

After Everton were defeated by Southampton this weekend, Arsenal have the chance to move four points clear in fourth place with a win against Newcastle.

Luckily for the Gunners, they do not have to travel to St. James' Park for this clash. Instead, Newcastle will travel to the Emirates Stadium with nothing other than pride to play for as they find themselves securely in ninth place.

But the Magpies are always a difficult and tenacious side to play against. There always seem to be sparks flying when Alan Pardew's side and Arsenal butt heads and a group of proud professionals will certainly give the home side a decent test.

Arsenal cannot stumble out of the gates, as they have recently. As games wear on, other teams tend to be more willing to park the bus at the back and make it harder for the Gunners' relatively few creators to break down the opposition's defense.

But the good news for Arsenal is that both Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil, the club's two best midfielders this season, are once again fit and firing.

Arsene Wenger confirmed in his pre-match press conference that everyone who participated in the match against Hull will be available again. Thomas Vermaelen might also be back, but Kieran Gibbs and Abou Diaby join the usual coterie of injured players.

Bearing all that in mind, here's how Wenger might line his team up:


There are no notable changes now that some key players have returned to full fitness and the manager already has his lineup well established.

Nacho Monreal continues in place of the injured Gibbs. Both have been hurt at various points during the season and rarely are the two fully fit and in the same 18-man squad. But luckily their injuries have largely been staggered and Monreal is able to substitute for his positional competitor.

Other than that, there can really be few areas of contention or controversy in Wenger's team selection.

He seems to prefer Mikel Arteta in defensive midfield, despite the availability of Mathieu Flamini and Kim Kallstrom. While the former has been suspended recently, the latter has been greatly impressive since debuting and surely merits another run-out or two before the end of the season.

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Manager of Arsenal Arsene Wenger and Manager of Newcastle United Alan Pardew on the touchline during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Arsenal at St James' Park on December 29, 2013
Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Personally, I prefer the Swede to the Spaniard at the moment, but Arteta can still handle competition of Newcastle's caliber.

Wenger also has many options on the wing, and his choices are not totally predictable.

He seems to prefer Podolski of late, and the German is in quite good form. His goalscoring exploits have inspired people to dig up statistics such as this (see the third from the bottom, h/t Reddit). He might not contribute much else to the team, but Podolski is incredibly good at what he does well.

And Wenger has also not seemed very willing to drop Santi Cazorla this season, both through good and poor patches of form. So expect him to be given another chance to shine; he deserves it, too, after recent performances that seem much more like his first season at the club than his current ones.

That just leaves the striker position, and Olivier Giroud will be the presumptive choice, as he has been for almost the entire season. Like it or not, for better or worse, he is essentially all Arsenal have at the moment, as everyone knows well.

But he scored a brace against Newcastle at home last season, so he's clearly capable of performing against this level of competition.