Saturday, 18 May 2013

Arsenal Face Newcastle In A Game They Must Win

The last day of the season approaches and Arsenal's fate will be decided by their result away to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon. They can finish anywhere from third to fifth with fourth being the most likely outcome. The consequences of the other two positions are vastly different and make this their most important game of the season.

There's even a possibility of Arsenal finishing tied with Chelsea on points, goal difference and goals scored which would result in a play off for third place and automatic Champions League group qualification. It's an unlikely scenario but stranger things have happened in football. For the play off to become a reality Arsenal must win by one goal and score two goals more than Chelsea who must only draw at home to Everton.

The most important thing is for Arsensl to win though and then worry about the outcome of the Chelsea game afterwards. As long as Arsenal win they will at worst qualify for the final qualifying round of the Champions League and finish ahead of arch rivals Spurs. It's always nice to welcome St. Totteringham's day, but I prefer to do so a little earlier in the season as per usual.

Looking forward to the game the only injury worry Arsenal have from Tuesday's win over Wigan is Mikael Arteta. It looks like Artera won't be playing which means there will more than likely be a start for Jack Wilshere. He has struggled with his form since his comeback from his most recent injury and will have surgery in the summer to remove the pin from his other ankle.

There is no doubting how good a player Wilshere is and he will become even better, but it won't be easy for him to fill the role Arteta does in the team. Arteta's defensive discipline and ability to keep the team ticking by doing the simple things is very important to Arsenal. Wilshere is a different type of player but I'm sure Aaron Ramsey can ably assist him.

I don't expect to see any other changes to the team with the possible exception of Olivier Giroud returning to the starting line up after serving his three game ban for his read card against Fulham. The team have struggled to score goals with Giroud out of the team with the exception of the eight minute spell against Wigsn which saw them hit the net three times. Giroud leads the line very well, but Lukas Podolski scored two goals against Wigan.

It's a headache Arsene Wenger will surely prefer to have. He cannot leave Santi Cazorla out of the team as he has been Arsenal's best player this season and is the one most likely to open up the Newcastle defence. While Giroud has been out Theo Walcott has rediscovered his scoring form and scored in each of the three games the team has played.

Whatever team is picked there is no doubt the Arsenal bench is going to have a very strong look to it. If things aren't going the way the boss wants them to go he will gave plenty of options available to him. Besides those players mentioned there's Akex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho too.

With Newcastle safe from relegation they have nothing to play for but pride in front of their own fans on the last day of the season. They are usually a tough team to beat on their own patch, but they have lost eight games at home in the league this season. Their last two home games have resulted in a 3-0 defeat by Sunderland and a 6-0 defeat by Liverpool.

They have some very good players and can play good football too and there is no doubt that their run to the last eight of the Europa League affected their league form. It might not be too easy for their players to find the effort and enthusiasm that will be needed to stop Arsenal.

Arsenal need to show that effort and enthusiasm in abundance as well and have the nerve to play the game the right way. As the games have gone by towards the end of the season the nervousness in the air has been there to smell almost, but the players have to overcome those nerves. It takes confidence and mental strength to play the game the right way and Arsenal have to show both of those attributes.

The pace and movement that was on show in the spell where they put three goals past Wigan will be more than enough to undo Newcastle in my opinion. They cannot stroll around expecting the goals to come without putting in the work needed to make those goals happen. 

Araenal's defensive record away from home is second to none in the Premier League this season and hopefully it will hold tight again. The partnership between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny has become an integral part of the run the team are on at the moment. Once the replacement for Arteta does his job correctly the defensive side of Arsenal's game should be able to do their job properly.

The most important player for Arsenal on the day might just be Santi Cazorla. He made all four of the goals against Wigan on Tuesday night and given time and space he can damage any team. He needs the other players to make the runs that are needed and if they do there is no better man in the league to pick a pass.

I think Arsenal will get the win they need and I expect both Spurs and Chelsea to win their games too. That would mean Arsenal finish fourth and considering where they were after the defeat against Spurs not so long ago that's not a bad outcome. It's hardly the trophy the fans long for but it will keep the club competing at the top table of football yet again.

The thought of finishing behind Spurs and missing out on the Champions League is almost unbearable and it's one I do not want to consider. If it does happen i expect ll hell to break loose and the manager to come under real pressure. I don't think that's going to happen though and i expect to see Arsenal take their usual place in next season's Champions League.

I've always been an optimist and I choose the optimistic option yet again. I will of course be biting my fingernails as kick off approaches tomorrow and all through the game too. Even if the team are four goals up I still won't feel safe considering the history of this fixture.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Eh? You expect Arsenal, Spurs and Newcastle to win their games? Not sure how Arsenal & Newcastle can both beat each other!!

    1. It should have read Chelsea and not Newcastle obviously, thanks for pointing out the error.