After a torrid season, last week Newcastle's Premier League status was cemented and now this week's game has very little riding on it for the hosts. Arsenal, however, will no doubt arrive at St James' Park ready for war. In arguably Arsene Wenger's biggest match as Arsenal manager, Newcastle and Alan Pardew can expect one of the tougher games of the season. This is a fixture that in recent times has become one that the fans look forward too. After the 4-4 draw it's almost risen in significance, and is a perfect way for the team to go out on a high.
While last week's performance wasn't world class, it was what it needed to be: efficient. Yoan Gouffran grabbed the goal that has been dubbed the '£60m goal' by some corners. If we were to record back-to-back victories it will improve what has been a sub-standard season. A higher position would be able to attract better players, so Pardew does have some motivation to get the win. With Mike Ashley supposedly promising a £1m bonus to the backroom staff if we win, there is more incentive for a strong performance from the team. Absentees include goalkeepers Tim Krul and Rob Elliot, allowing Steve Harper a final performance for his boyhood club. Steven Taylor has recovered from illness and is set for a starting place. Doubts surround Davide Santon, and Shola Ameobi and Moussa Sissoko are both set to miss out. Danny Simpson will also be participating in his final Newcastle match day squad, and Alan Pardew may give him a run out for sentiments sake. It could also be Coloccini's last game, as questions surround his personal life. Next season could be a very much changed Newcastle side, so hopefully the current crop can sign off with a win!
Arsenal on the other hand, come to St James' Park with everything riding on this game. They will be high in confidence after a 4-1 thrashing of Wigan and will look to continue their unbeaten run, which includes seven wins in nine games. Oliver Giroud returns from suspension, but Mikel Arteta remains a doubt after a calf injury sustained against Wigan. Arsenal know a win will secure Champions League football, and with the best away defensive record in the league, scoring even one will be a tough ask for Cisse and co. The previous encounter in the league between the two sides isn't worth discussing and Newcastle will be looking to redeem themselves.
Newcastle predicted line up: Harper; Debuchy, Coloccini, Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa; Tiote, Cabaye, Gutierrez; Gouffran, Ben Arfa, Cisse.
Predicted score: 2-1 Arsenal. I think a win will be just too much for Newcastle, but I do hoped to be proved wrong.
That's it for the match previews until August, but stick around on the blog, there'll be lots throughout the summer from all the team at Coming Home Newcastle. Howay the lads!