Newcastle’s last chance to push for fourth place in the English Premier League will likely come on March 12 when they travel down to London to take on Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal currently sits in fourth place in the league, which is the last Champions League spot for next season, with 49 points from 15 wins, four draws and eight losses. Newcastle is in sixth place with 44 points from 12 wins, eight draws and seven losses. Chelsea sits in between the two, also with 49 points. A Newcastle win would move them to within two points of fourth while a loss would leave them eight off the pace.
The way Arsenal has been playing lately though there’s a good chance they could pass London neighbours Tottenham and take third place. Spurs have lost three league games in a row now and an Arsenal win over Newcastle will put the Gunners just one point behind them. Arsenal has won four of their past five matches, including wins over Liverpool and Spurs. They haven’t fared to well in cup competitions though and went crashing pout of the Champions League, FA Cup, and Carling Cup.
Newcastle has improved this year with manager Alan Pardew at the helm and their new signings have all performed well. These include Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, and Demba Ba. They started the season well and then struggled for a few weeks, but have been playing better recently. However, they’ll need to play with some urgency if they hope to top Arsenal and take fourth place.
Wenger should have defender Andre Santos back in the squad soon after returning from a broken ankle. However, Jack Wilshere looks to be out for the season. Aaron Ramsey could also return against Newcastle after an ankle injury. Yossi Benayoun will be a game time decision, but Abou Diaby, Francis Coquelin, and Per Mertesacker all look like they’ll miss the match.
Newcastle could be without striker Peter Lovenkrands for the rest of the season due to a thigh injury. He may have even played his last game for the club since his contract runs out at the end of the current season. Other than that, Sammy Ameobi and Leon Best are on the sidelines due to knee injuries and Steven Taylor and Sylvain Marveaux will likely miss the game as well.
Newcastle will have to watch Robin van Persie as he’s been on a year-long hot streak now. He has 32 goals in all games this year, including a league best 25 in 27 games. However, if Pardew plays Cisse and Demba Ba up front like he should then Newcastle’s chances aren’t too bad. If he chooses to go with just one striker then he’s likely going to come out of London with no points from this game.
William Hill has the latest odds of an Arsenal victory listed at 2/5 with a Newcastle win at 7/1 and a draw at 9/4.