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Preview: Newcastle at Arsenal

If Newcastle can unlock Arsenal, there are goals to be had. But, Newcastle hasn't shown any signs of that happening.

Newcastle will hav to shut down these two to come away with a result.
Newcastle will hav to shut down these two to come away with a result.
Scott Heavey

The Premier League must not do flex scheduling. If they did, this Newcastle-Arsenal match wouldn't be given a Monday Night (UK time, anyway) fixture. It would be a run of the mill, 3:00 on Saturday fixture.

Oh sure, the Gunners still have something to play for. Arsenal currently sit in 4th place, holding onto a Champion's League playoff-round. While Arsenal probably can't catch Manchester City or Chelsea for a spot in the group stage, they will be trying to hold off Everton and avoid slipping into a spot in the Europa League.

Newcastle, meanwhile, have had nothing to play for in quite awhile, and it shows. The Magpies have lost five straight matches. They've looked listless. Shola Ameobi is the only Newcastle player to score in the month of April. Newcastle has a -13 GD since March 22.

But, you know all that. Let's tell you some more about Arsenal. The Gunners are doing their part to fend of Everton, having won two in a row. Bad news for Newcastle's defense: Arsenal have scored three times in each match, a 3-1 win over West Ham, followed by a 3-0 win over Hull last week. This is a bit of an uptick in form, as Arsenal had a pair of draws sandwiched between a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea and a 3-0 loss to Everton prior to the winning streak.

Lukas Podolski has been red hot, scoring four goals in the last two matches for Arsenal. The German has eight goals on the campaign. Speaking of goal scorers, Oliver Giroud is dispelling that popular Tyneside myth of French players not being able to cut it in the Premier League. He has 20 goals in all competitions, including 14 in the Premiership, to lead Arsenal.

Defensively, Arsenal have conceded 41 goals on the campaign. When Arsenal does have an off-day in their backline, it can get ugly. Recall their 3-1 loss to Aston Villa to begin the year. Throw in the aforementioned 6-0 and 3-0 losses to Chelsea and Everton, plus a 6-3 loss to Manchester City, and a 5-1 loss to Liverpool and you'll see some lopsided scores for a top four club. This isn't the stoutest of clubs, but it isn't likely that Newcastle can find the offensive prowess to complicate Arsenal's stay in the Top Four.

As for the last time the clubs met? Arsenal topped Newcastle 1-0, thanks to a 65th minute goal from Giroud on December 29. This fixture last year saw Arsenal put on a show in a 7-3 win in London. Newcastle haven't beaten Arsenal since November 7, 2010 when Andy Carroll's 45th minute goal was the difference in a 1-0 win at Emirates.