Arsenal will return to the safety of domestic football as they travel to St James’ Park to face Newcastle United today (Saturday).
Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal have won five straight in the league and are through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but will still be reeling from their midweek Champions League exit in Monaco.
Tuesday evening’s 2-0 victory in the French principality wasn’t enough to make amends for the Gunners’ defensive errors in the first leg, meaning that Arsenal have now been knocked out at the last-16 stage for five straight seasons.
“It’s obviously really disappointing again,” goal-scoring substitute Aaron Ramsey said. “We seem to always give ourselves a hard task from the first game. We came really close – that seems to be the story of the last few years. … We did believe that we could come here and qualify. We had chances and on another day we could have scored three, four or five, but it wasn’t to be.
“We can take some positives from (the second leg). It’s not an easy place to come, they’ve proven that with the results they’ve had here. They don’t concede many but we had chances to score. We have a game against Newcastle at the weekend and hopefully we can continue this winning run that we’re on.”
Newcastle United are stumbling to the end of the season under temporary manager John Carver. The Magpies have won just once in their last six games, and last weekend’s 3-0 defeat to struggling Everton was a low point in a campaign that looks set for a mediocre mid-table finish.
Carver’s side are also struggling with a growing injury crisis. Steven Taylor has been ruled out for six months, while Cheick Tiote, Siem de Jong, Paul Dummett and Papiss Cisse are all unavailable. Concerns over the fitness of a number of other squad members have left Carver facing the possibility of playing a midfielder out of position at centre-back, with even Jonas Gutierrez a candidate for the role after his recent return to action after recovering from cancer.
“Three years ago when we finished fifth, I played in many positions,” the Argentine said. “I was playing in different positions because we had problems with injuries. I’m here to help. I work hard and I want to enjoy. Always, I have to do the best for the team.
“We have to finish in the top 10. We don’t have any excuses. We have hard games up to the finish of the season, but we have to take points and finish in the top 10.”
Arsenal will be missing the injured duo of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere for the trip to Tyneside, while Mikel Arteta, Abou Diaby and Matthieu Debuchy are also missing and Tomas Rosicky faces a late fitness test.
It was a comfortable 4-1 win for Arsenal when these teams met at the Emirates in December. The Gunners have won six straight against Newcastle by a combined 18-5 scoreline.
Source: ScoreMobile FC