Deja-Vu all over again!
Here we are again…feels like Deja Vu’ all over again, doesn’t it? Another final day heart stopper! I have to say, watching Arsenal these days is enough to test even the most resolute (not you GLIC, you’re just a blouse who hides behind a couch haha). Add in the angst of the Chelsea and Tottenham games and we are in for a wild ride. We all know the ramifications of this one, but here it is again:
If we are winning I’ll be furiously flicking between our game and the Chelsea vs Everton game. If scores are level or we are losing I’ll be swapping back and forth to the Tottenham vs Sunderland match. I don’t know what will melt down first…me or the remote. I’m confident we will only have to rely on the Toffees in this final fixture (Chelsea without Terry and Hazard will help the cause). Chelsea draw and we win 1-2 it’s a playoff fixture…no thanks we are limping over the line as it is. If Di Canio’s Sunderland are required, I sure as hell hope they can do the deed (Yes we apoligise for loaning you Bendtner, but we did inadvertently hope you’d be beating Wigan in the last fixture!). Just sit 10 men on Bale, he is single-handedly dragging his knuckles across the pitch hauling the rest of the team with him.
I am under no illusion that 3rd or 4th is great result for us. It is the bare minimum of what we should achieve! But when the season is all over and done with we can all breath a little bit easier knowing that Arsene has Steve McQueened this season again.
Anyway that’s that (It’s hard to think of the game when there is a bigger picture at stake), now to the game. Personally I think Newcastle have clocked out for the season; their previous results undermine what they are truly capable of. Second season jitters…I think not. We all know at their best they are good enough to challenge for Europa League football. Unfortunately, the loss of Demba Ba along with a whole host of injuries really has crippled their season. Fifth last season. Relegation scrap this season (until they defeated QPR in their last fixture). However, we could be in for a rude awakening if we take Newcastle to easy in this one… they do have match winners at their disposal.
Missing in Action:
Arsenal: Diaby (malicious bad luck resulting in repetitive injuries), Arteta (calf) faces a fitness test
Newcastle: Sit on top of the premier league injury table with a host of injuries to key players: Krul (shoulder), Ameobi (knee), R.Taylor (ACL), Sissoko (ankle), and Vuckic (knee) will miss this one. Elliot (red card) will also sit this one out. While Tiote, Hairdara, Santon (all hamstrings), and S.Taylor (virus) should be available subject to fitness tests.
Tough one to predict this time around. It all comes down to the fitness of Mikel Arteta. While he hasn’t been in the best of form as of late he is vital to our setup. He’s a small chance for this one after sustaining a calf injury against Wigan in our last fixture. Do we risk bringing in a player that may only be 70% fit given the implications of this match? I’m not so sure. What I do know is Arteta is a consummate professional and if selected he will give every bit of himself to the cause.
If he doesn’t pass the fitness test who do we select? Ramsey can slot in to Arteta’s position like he did so admirably against Liverpool, but who plays next to him? Wilshere can but his injury concerns are well documented. At the moment Arsene has him encased in glass with the words ‘In case of Emergency’ written on it. Once again though, if selected Jack will leave everything out on the pitch. Or as Highbury Harmony pointed out do we go with Coquelin? After all it is his preferred position! We could move Rosicky back, move Cazorla to the attacking midfield position, Podolski to the left and Giroud up front. Sounds good but it could leave us a little lightweight in midfield especially with the bull Tiote on the pitch. Then again, Tiote is prone to a yellow card, and if he grabs one early he may just retreat into his shell. Lastly, Vermaelen to defensive midfield. Sounds like a great move to me…but just not now and in a game so important. Last thing we want to do is experiment.
Who plays up front? Giroud or Podolski?
I’m going to have to go with Giroud in this one. He’s back in the fold after a shocking decision which left him sidelined for 3 matches. Podolski (like Wilshere) is due for surgery come season’s end but he really has delivered when we’ve needed him most. I don’t profess to know what has gone on behind the scenes with Podolski this season, but clearly injuries have taken their toll on him. Giroud is the fresher of the two and should start. Podolski…one more game mate, give it all you’ve got, get fixed up in the off-season and come back firing on all cylinders next season!
The rest of the team picks itself.
If Steven Taylor passes his fitness test he should take Williamson’s position alongside Coloccini. Harper will play his last ever game for Newcastle thanks to Krul’s shoulder injury and Elliot’s red card last week. I feel sorry for Harper. Not only did he have to contend with Given for much of his career and more recently Krul, but he will be forever immortalised in highlight dvds thanks to this from Xavi Alonso:
Gouffran will sit behind Cisse and the dangerous Ben Arfa out on the wing.
Arsenal 7 – Newcastle 3
The score really doesn’t paint the full story. 3-3 at the 69′ until a late flurry saw Theo net 2 more goals to secure a hat-trick and Giroud score 2 in the space of a couple of minutes. Phew!
For those who missed it here are the highlights (love our friend with the commentary again):
Arsenal 2 – Newcastle 1
Vermaelen scored in the final seconds to ensure victory after a tough battle that saw tempers flare and Dutch compatriots square off. HIT HIM KRUL, HIT HIM!!!!
The damning stat is we have only beaten them once at St. James since 2004!
Form Guide: Arsenal: WWDWD Newcastle: WDLDL
Our form has been up and down for most of the season but our form really has come good when we needed it most! We are unbeaten in our last 9 league games (best run in 2 years) and sees us sitting on top of the premierleague.com form ladder.
Stats can paint Newcastle’s form in two ways. They have won 4 of their last 6 home games; however, The last 2 have been a 0-3 loss to Sunderland, and a devastating 0-6 loss at the hands of Liverpool. It’s safe to say their confidence is at an all time low.
This week I’ve dipped into the archive by continuing with the déjà vu theme. That’s right our final game at Highbury which just happened to (along with some dodgy cooking) stop Tottenham from finishing in the top 4.
One to Watch:
Santi Cazorla – Rightfully or wrongfully excluded from the PFA team of the year I couldn’t care less. He’s a gem of a player and I’m happy as Larry he’s in our team. He was in sterling form again providing 4 assists against Wigan. Give him time and space and he can hurt you in a number of ways.
Hatem Ben Arfa – Proven match winner when he can stay on the pitch. Hamstring injuries have plagued his season and probably should have sat out for the remainder of the season weeks ago. However, his importance to Newcastle was shown by Pardew, who called upon him to sheer Newcastle throw their relegation battle. Give him a sniff at goal and he will take it!
Ben Arfa vs Kieran Gibbs
Although Nacho tends to be the preferred left back for away fixtures I’d go with Gibbs in this one to quell the influence of Ben Arfa. Last season Gibbs saved us with a brilliant season defining tackle. He put his body on the line and threw himself in front of an on-rushing West Brom player who was about to pull the trigger.
He has the speed to go with Ben Arfa and has a good understanding with Podolski. Gibbs will have to be cautious though, neglect his defensive duties and Szczesney may well be picking the ball out the back of the net. Gibbs should win this battle though.
This season’s final finger goes to the stress Arsene Wenger and us supporters have had to deal with all season. It hasn’t been an easy ride that’s for sure. If seasons like this one continue we’ll all have hair like Brave Sir Robin in no time at all (even Terry’s syrup’s will start turning grey!). For the first time in a while I’m excited to see what the transfer window holds for us. Knuckle down in pre-season, add 2/3 players, sign Sagna and there is no reason why we cannot challenge for full honours next season!
Pre-Match pat on the back:
The final pat on the back goes out to all the Arsenal supporters who have stayed tough this season in spite of everything. The away supporters who continue to do us proud and outsing the home crowd. TA for starting a blog that allows Gooners from across the globe to converse and talk all things Arsenal. Every single person who writes a post or comments on Bergkampesque; with each new contributor this site raises another level. To VCC for developing (and corrupting) the UMF league, it’s been great. Finally, the Arsenal…without you we’d have to spend more time with our loved ones and less time drinking in celebration or drowning our sorrows!
Ooh to! Ooh to be! Ooh to be a Gooner!
‘Ask the opposition’ returns again this week. It is designed to get some friendly banter from our opposition fans and get their insight for the match ahead. This week we see returning Newcastle fans Paul from www.nufcblog.org , and Kev from http://www.newcastleunited-mad.co.uk. Thanks for your help again gents!
1) What’s your thoughts on the PFA Team of the Year?
Paul: It seems fair enough to me. I’d already tipped Verthonghen for a place on there when I was banging on about how Newcastle United should have signed him. Your lot should made more of an effort to sign him as well, you already have his best mate, the Verminator. Perhaps your Cazorla could have been in with a shout but all the ones in there have been very good.
Kev: No thoughts at all to be honest with you. Doesn’t concern Newcastle United I’m afraid.
2) Is Fergie’s retirement going to reel Man United back with the rest of the competition?
Paul: David Moyes is no Alex Ferguson. Then again, Kenny Dalglish was no Bob Paisley at Liverpool (the first time he managed there), but he kept on winning with a little help from Paisley himself. Perhaps we’ll see the same sort of thing at Manchester United?
Kev: Moyes? You have got to be joking. 11 years and no trophies. Yep, that’s the sort of CV Man Utd fans have craved for, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want Moyes at Newcastle – never mind Man Utd. Yep…they will be in turmoil by Xmas.
3) Newcastle…what happened this year?
Paul: Alan Pardew, he isn’t very good and he never was. Lots of managers like Peter Reid, Danny Wilson, George Burley, Steve Coppell and so on… have had very good seasons as a “surprise package,” won the LMA “Manager of the Year” award then sunk like a stone. Pardew is another one on a fairly long list.
Kev: How long have you got? Injuries have had a lot to do with it, but Pardew’s tactics haven’t helped. All in all, a bad show from players and manager.
4) Are you expecting much transfer activity in the next transfer window?
Paul: If you mean with all the teams, yes, quite a bit because if the increased Premiership TV money. If you mean Newcastle United in particular, maybe a few but not a huge amount.
Kev: Let’s hope a new boss comes in and Ashley backs him. If Pardew stays, I think Ashley will not be as thrifty.
5) Who do you think Arsenal need to buy (one or more) to start winning things again?
Paul: Since Arsenal last won a major trophy, besides the usual top teams, Portsmouth, Birmingham City, Swansea City and Tottenham (ouch) have all won major trophies with lesser squads, so perhaps you need to take a risk with another manager rather than another raft of big players? Of course, Newcastle United are even worse though!
Kev: It’s crunch time for Wenger. Chelsea, Man U and Man C will have new managers, and I think Arsenal will gain from that. Who he buys is up to him. He knows better than me, I’m sure.
6) Who would you rather finish in the top 4 Arsenal or Tottenham?
Paul: I don’t mind. I don’t have anything against either team and as I live in North London, most of my friends are either Arsenal or Tottenham fans.
Kev: That’s a personal thing as I don’t talk on behalf of all Newcastle fans. I have been to Arsenal (both stadiums) many times and never had any trouble. I’ve been to Spurs just as often, but they aren’t as friendly. Arsenal for me.
7) Prediction for our upcoming match?
Paul: Arsenal to win, not sure about the score.
Kev: Last two home games we lost to Sunderland 0-3 and Liverpool 0-6. If Arsenal score early we could suffer. Depends who scores first. 1-1
We have too much to play for, Newcastle have nothing left to give so we should walk out winners in this one quite easily I feel. Szczesney to be rarely tested. 0-2 to the good guys. This rollercoaster ride is about to come to an end…with us sitting in 3rd spot!
To our Tottenham friends:
Written By: Oz Gunner