News and gossip from The Emirates as they approach their final fixture of the season.
Arsenal face Newcastle United tomorrow as they attempt to wrap up a Champions League place at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur. Here is some team news ahead of that fixture.
The only major new absentee is Mikel Arteta. The Spaniard has picked up a calf injury in the midweek win over Wigan Athletic so he will miss the last game of the season for the second year in a row.
Abou Diaby is out with a long-term knee problem.
Newcastle have some injury problems of their own with Cheikh Tiote and Davide Santon doubts while Tim Krul, Moussa Sissoko and Massadio Haidara are all out of contention. Rob Elliot is also suspended so Steve Harper will be in goal for his last ever game.
Arsene Wenger faces some big decisions ahead of the tie. Jack Wilshere is the obvious choice to replace Arteta in the heart of midfield but is due to undergo surgery on his ankle immediately at the seasons end and Wenger admitted he will not force the England international to play if he is not feeling 100% confident in his fitness.
The other is who they play up front. Olivier Giroud has now served his three-game suspension for a tackle on Stanislav Manolev at Craven Cottage last month. Arsenal have fared well without him and Lukas Podolski bagged a brace against Wigan in midweek to stake his claim for a start. The French international may therefore have to make do with a place on the bench.
Should Chelsea draw and Arsenal score at least two goals in a one-goal difference victory higher than the Chelsea draw the two will have to face off to decide who finishes third in the league and qualifies automatically for the Champions League next season. The venue for that game, should it come to fruition, has been announced as Villa Park. The stadium accommodated the Community Shield last summer as the London Olympics football final was taking place at Wembley on the same day.
Arsenal is reportedly the most likely destination for Brazilian international goalkeeper Juilo Cesar. The QPR keeper wants to stay in the Premier League next season and sees The Gunners as a perfect place to do so.
What are your thoughts on everything Arsenal FC on the 18th May 2013?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald