Premier League preview: Arsenal v Newcastle
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is hoping the club’s Champions League elimination inspires them to a top-four finish.
Wenger’s side host Newcastle in the English Premier League on Monday in the latest match of their bid to haul in Tottenham and finish third.
Despite winning the second leg of their Champions League round-of-16 clash 3-0 against AC Milan, Arsenal bowed out of Europe’s premier club competition after losing 4-3 on aggregate.
The result ended any realistic chances Arsenal had of ending their seven-year trophy drought but finishing third can raise spirits, although it will not be easy according to Wenger.
“Hopefully from here we can finish the season strongly because there is no room for disappointment,” Wenger said.
“Every point is a battle until the end of the season and that is what is in front of us.”
“Our target is possible because we are four points behind Tottenham, but we have to go step by step. We take it game by game and we need to win our games and look at the results of teams like Tottenham to catch them up, but for us, it’s clear – we have to win our games.”
Arsenal were without midfield pair Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta against the Italians and both are likely to return from concussion and ankle injuries respectively.
Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs picked up knocks against AC Milan but are likely to recover while Yossi Benayoun (sickness) and Andre Santos (ankle) are not available.
Impressive 5-2 and 2-1 wins against Tottenham and Liverpool in the Premier League have Arsenal in a confident mood heading into Monday night’s match.
But Newcastle have not been in bad form themselves, losing just one of their past five matches.
Successive draws against Wolves and Sunderland have seen Newcastle lose ground on Chelsea and slip to sixth but they are still five points ahead of seventh and likely to play European football next season.
Injury worries will keep Leon Best (knee) and Nile Ranger (ankle) out of the match while Sylvain Marveaux (groin) and Peter Lovenkrands (thigh) remain on the sidelines.
But with Demba Ba, Papiss Demba Cisse and Shola Ameobi as attacking options, Pardew is still spoiled for choice.
Newcastle won on their last visit to the Emirates Stadium with Andy Carroll’s goal in November 2010 enough to give the visitors a 1-0 win.
Arsenal have not beaten Newcastle since March 2009 and will be hoping to break that hoodoo in their charge for fourth.