Arsenal take on Newcastle tonight at the Emirates Stadium in a clash between two teams looking to finish in the fourth and final Champions League spot.
Arsenal currently sit in fourth place, five points ahead of Newcastle and a victory tonight against the bar codes will more or less eliminate Newcastle in the race for fourth.
After their heroic exploits in midweek in the Champions League, Arsene Wenger and his men would have nearly a full week from which to recover, so any complaints of tiredness and fatigue will not be entertained.
In the corresponding fixture at St James’ Park the match finished 0-0, amidst lots of controversy. Gervinho making his league debut for Arsenal got sent off after getting into a scuffle with Joey Barton. Arsenal at the time were embroiled in the transfer saga’s of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas and the sending off of thier new signing just added to the Gunners woes at the start of the season.
Arsenal have failed to beat Newcastle in their last three League games, of those includes that abysmal 4-4 draw last season.
Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey are both fit to return to the squad, while Wenger could welcome back Andre Santos to the squad as well after a three month absence.
Abou Diaby will miss out after sustaining a muscular injury against Liverpool last week but Yossi Benayoun could return.
I expect us to line up like this:
Sagna Koscielny Vermaelen Gibbs
Walcott Arteta Song Gervinho
With Spurs losing against Everton on Saturday, third place is well and truly up for grabs now, and Wenger feels that due to the quality in Europe whichever team finishes in fourth place is not guaranteed Champions League football and he is hopeful his side remain consistent for the remainder of the season so they can avoid that tricky qualifier by finishing third:
‘Looking at the quality in Europe, it is going up, for any English team it is difficult. I have felt that for a few years now.
‘Where it [Champions League qualification from fourth place] was just a formality before, now it is not.
‘With Udinese we had two hard games; they are a top team in Serie A.
‘This team goes as far as we can and the real challenge for us is the next 11 games. I try to do my best and just know that I am ready to fight.
‘At the moment for Tottenham, it [third place] is still in their hands. It will be down to consistency.’
Arsenal need to be wary of a few of Newcastle‘s players like Demba Ba, Yoann Cabaye and Papiss Cisse, but if Arsenal continue to play like how they have been in the last two weeks and with the crowd behind them, they should not have problems getting the three points tonight.
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