Disappointment may be an understatement after Arsenal’s Champions League exit at the hands of Monaco, but feeling sorry for ourselves will not help our chances of finishing in the top four. Bouncing back with yet another Premier League victory is undoubtedly the best tonic for the Gunners, who may feel disappointed that they did not carve out enough opportunities against a side that were ultra-negative throughout the game. Being knocked out feels as gut-wrenching as losing 2-1 at the Lane thanks to Harry Kane’s cameo – a striker who can now be backed with Betsafe to score for England after being called up to the senior side alongside Danny Welbeck, Kieran Gibbs and Theo Walcott – but Arsenal must focus their attentions back on qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
England beckons after Toon
Five consecutive victories, and eight in the last nine league fixtures, has put the team in a wonderful position to dine at Europe’s most prestigious football table for the 18th consecutive year under Wenger. There is still plenty of work to be done before fans can get their passports out once again, starting at St. James’ Park against Newcastle where three points would set Arsenal up nicely ahead of the international break.
The resounding 3-0 victory against West Ham at the Emirates was yet another indication that Arsenal have hit top gear at just the right time of the season. Aside from the Champions League exit, the Gunners have rediscovered their creative spark and the wonderful brand of football which makes them one of the best footballing teams in the country, with Olivier Giroud, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez stepping up to the plate in recent weeks. All three will have to be on top form once again to get past a Newcastle side who not only look shot of confidence and form, but also have a number of key players missing through injury and suspension. Tomas Rosicky may be available for selection if he recovers from an illness in time, but Wenger will have to wait until after the international break to welcome the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere back to first team action
Recording just two wins in ten Premier League fixtures under his guidance is not the sort of form that will improve John Carver’s chances of becoming Newcastle’s next manager, with the North East club going downhill since the departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace. Consecutive defeats against Manchester United and Everton typified the lack of confidence that is affecting the team, and although they usually perform much better on home soil through wonderful support from the home crowd, Newcastle will be thankful that they have already accrued enough points to avoid being sucked into a relegation dogfight. The emotional return to action for Jonas Gutierrez is a wonderful moment in the football world and Arsenal fans will undoubtedly give him a warm reception if he comes onto the pitch, but Carver may have to consider throwing some of the academy players into the fire against Arsenal. Influential captain Fabricio Coloccini and top scorer Papiss Cisse are suspended, while up to seven first team players are currently sidelined which presents a wonderful opportunity for the Gunners to be ruthless and take advantage of their opponents’ misfortunes.