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It was set to be a boring weekend without the Arsenal. But thankfully, Everton and Sunderland did a great job in defeating Liverpool and Spurs, leaving Arsenal with a chance to close the gap to 3rd.
It was just over two weeks ago, when Spurs were 0-2 up at the Emirates, that a 13 point gap between the North London rivals seemed to be inevitable. Now there is a real chance of the gap closing to just a point. That’s certainly impressive, but there’s still plenty of the season left, and some tough games. The first tough game takes place tonight, against the surprise package that is Newcastle.
Alan Pardew’s side lost some key players in recent times, but shrewd buys have bulked up the squad to a level which could compete for a Champions League spot. However, if Arsenal win tonight, then we will be 8 points ahead of Newcastle with just ten games to go, which would all but end their hopes of a place in the CL.
Arteta and Ramsey are set to return, giving Arsene a bit of a headache with regards to midfield team selection. Rosicky has been excellent and Song has played well, although the latter probably needs a break. The Ox was brilliant against AC, but I expect him to be pushed back onto the wing for the foreseeable future.
Yossi may be an option after recovering from illness, but I doubt he will get a chance given the form of other players. I expect him to be on the bench if he is deemed fit.
Santos is available again after three months out with ankle ligament injury, but Gibbs will probably start ahead of him, despite the fact that the Englishman has been a doubt for each game he has been involved in. I reckon Wenger is slowly easing him back into the team, cautious that any knock could be detrimental to his recovery.
Predicted Starting XI
Oxlade-Chamberlain picked up a knock in the AC match, but the noises from the club indicate he is available to play. However, Wenger has urged caution when it comes to the youngster, so I reckon he will be rested. This leaves Gervinho and Theo on the wings. Arteta will slip straight into the starting line-up given his impressive debut season for the Gunners. The rest of the team pretty much picks itself.
Arsenal 3-2 Newcastle - I expect Arsenal to continue its fine form, especially at home, despite Newcastle’s strong defence and wealth of attacking talent.