Daily Archives: April 28, 2014
The drama in the Premier League continued on both ends of the table as Fulham blew their chances of coming out of the bottom three after dropping points against Hull. Sunderland capitalized on that error with a win over fellow strugglers, Cardiff, to breath some fresh air above relegation waters. At the top, Liverpool threw open the title race with a loss to Chelsea, and with Manchester City getting a win against high-flying Crystal Palace, it’s going down the wire for the Premier League trophy.
Tonight, the business of the day remains Champions League qualification and with Everton capitulating in grand style against Southampton, Arsenal has a chance of going four points clear with a win against the out-of-sorts Newcastle. Since Alan Pardew’s infamous headbutt incident that saw him sanctioned with a seven-game ban, Newcastle has lost six of these games and he’ll get a chance to return to the dugout tonight at the Emirates, a ground he got spanked 7-3 last season.Newcastle’s cause wouldn’t be helped with the fact that Arsenal’s record at home this season has been good and the Gunners have not lost a game at the Emirates in the League since the opening day defeat to Aston Villa back in August 2013. Arsenal have scored in all but two of their home league matches this season – the exceptions were 0-0 draws with Chelsea & Man Utd.
Pardew has vowed to change his team’s fortunes in his return to the touchline,
“I think I will sit down a little bit more, but I still will be on the touchline,” he said. “It’s important that the team sees I’m there – we are a team and I am part of that.
“I have thought about my situation going forward and I think I will be better for it.”
Seeing a manager headbutt a player was a very shameful incident and I hope he has learned his mistakes. On the other side of the divide, it seems as if Arsene Wenger is set to extend his stay at the club, despite the speculation that he would be calling it quits at the end of the season,
“Look, I have said that many times already, I have given my word to this club and that I want to continue where I am…That means to stay.”
However, Wenger’s focus would be on tonight’s game and he would be hoping that his team would put up a good performance that would see them a breather from Everton.
Arsenal have won their last four league matches against Newcastle and are unbeaten in six against the Magpies. However, they have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four home matches in the Premier League. Newcastle on the other hand, has scored just one goal in their last five league matches, and conceded 14 in that time. They have also scored a meager 10 goals in 2014, the lowest for any team in the Premier League.
To injuries, Thomas Vermaelen is set to return from his injury outlay but the Gunners would be without Gibbs, Miyaichi (both hamstring), Gnabry (knee), Diaby, Walcott (both knee), Wilshere (foot). Newcastle also have their injury problems to contend with as Sa Ameobi (ankle), Ben Arfa (dead leg), Obertan, R Taylor (both knee), Santon (hamstring) are out of action.
I envisage that the Gunners would start with their usual 4-2-3-1 tactical setup.
As expected, Szczesny would keep his place in goal and I also don’t expect the back line to change after successfully keeping a clean sheet against Hull. With Vermaelen fully fit, I would expect him to start from the dugout with Nacho Monreal retaining his place.
In central midfield, Mathieu Flamini is available from his suspension but I expect him to return to the team with Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta working well together. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Mesut Ozil is returning to full fitness and I would be hopeful for an improved performance in the attacking midfield slot but he would have Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla providing width from the flanks. Olivier Giroud would play up front on his own as it as always been this season.
For Newcastle, their injury worries would be softened with the fact that Loic Remy is on his way to full fitness and they would be expecting him to add some firepower to their attack even if the goals have been drying up for the mercurial French forward.
Fabricio Coloccini and Mark Williamson have been part of a woeful defense that has been conceding goals from all corners of the Earth and I feel the trend will continue tomorrow with the kind of attacking talents the Gunners have in their disposal.
Cheick Tiote will do his bit to protect his back line and he will be supported by Vurnon Anita. The French duo of Yoan Gouffran and Moussa Sissoko will maraud the flanks to support Remy and Shola Amoebi.
The referee is Neil Swarbrick and he has brandished 63 yellow cards and no red card in the 18 games he has officiated this season. Maybe Tiote might break the ref’s red card duck if he decides to go all gung ho on Arsenal’s attacking midfielders.
Enjoy the game wherever you are.
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