The title is almost certainly beyond them, but with 11 games remaining in the Premier League this season, Arsenal will be looking to show how far they have come this campaign by finishing in third place, although Paddy Power seem to have let the door open for punters as the Toon are value looking 7/1 for victory at the Emirates.
Since their shocking first leg defeat to AC Milan in the San Siro, as well as their early exit from the FA Cup, the Gunners’ form has improved dramatically in the league, with Arsene Wenger’s men moving above Chelsea into fourth place.
They face a tough test tonight, however, when they entertain a Newcastle side who have been something of a surprise package this season.
Having let the likes of Jose Enrique, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan go in the summer, many predicted they would find themselves in a scrap at the foot of the table.
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In stark contrast to those expectations, however, they find themselves currently occupying sixth place on 44 points knowing that a win tonight would close the gap on the Gunners to just two points.
Qualification for the Champions’ League is still not something the fans will expect at Newcastle, but if they can take three points off Arsenal, maybe they can start to dream.
Arsenal are currently undefeated in five games, having won their last four, while the Magpies have failed to win in their last three outings, including two draws.
The last time these two sides met in the league was back in August when they played out a 0-0 draw at the then St James’ Park. The game previous to that was last season’s epic 4-4 draw where Newcastle came from 4-0 down to salvage a draw.
When these two met at the Emirates Stadium last season, Newcastle caused something of an upset by taking all three points back to the North East with a 1-0 win.
Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey should return for Arsenal after respective head and ankle injuries, while Yossi Benayoun has overcome illness and Andre Santos is back in training after a long-term ankle problem.
Newcastle’s Peter Lovenkrands could miss the rest of the season after suffering a suspected ruptured thigh muscle against Sunderland. But manager Alan Pardew has no other fresh injury concerns ahead of tonight’s game.
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