(Sporting Alert) — Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger reveals midfielder Mikel Arteta remains doubtful for Sunday’s English Premier crunch-time clash with Newcastle United at St James’ Park, a game they must win to secure a place in the Champions League next season.
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Arsenal are sitting fourth in the EPL standings on 70 points, one more than Tottenham and must beat Newcastle to guarantee the last place in the Champions League.
Arteta was subbed out in the closing minutes during the 4-1 win over Wigan on Tuesday night with a calf injury and Wenger revealed that there are some “uncertainty” admitting that it’s highly unlikely that he will play.
“For the weekend, we have the uncertainty over Mikel Arteta, who had to come off just before the end of the Wigan game with a calf strain,” Wenger said on the Arsenal official website at www.arsenal.com.
“Honestly, his chances of being available are minimal. I have to be realistic and prepare for another solution.”
If Arteta doesn’t play, then England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has been used off the bench recently because of a nagging ankle problem, which he will do surgery on next week, will likely start.
“He is an option, yes,” the boss said. “We will monitor him until Sunday and I will make a decision very late over what I will do.”
Arsenal also welcome back striker Olivier Giroud, who is back from a three-match suspension. He is expected to start.
Wenger said: “I am happy to have him back. He missed some games and will be full of enthusiasm.”
Newcastle in the meantime, could have center-back Steven Taylor back in the team after he was forced out of the win over QPR due to illness.
Manager Alan Pardew doesn’t intend to do Arsenal any favors and has told his players to come out and put on a show for the fans in the season finale.
“We’re very, very determined,” he said. “We’ve got a good record against Arsenal at home, and we take that into the game so we’ll be in good confidence.
“I think it’s very important in terms of ourselves, most importantly. It has been a tough season for us in many ways and the last home game (the 6-0 defeat to Liverpool) was not good for us.
“So it’s nice for us to have a big game with something on the game, which I think’s important, because Arsenal obviously need to get in the Champions League.
“We owe to the standard of the Premier League and to ourselves that we put on a fantastic show. And I think we can.”
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Newcastle United (squad): Harper, Alnwick, Debuchy, Simpson, Santon, S. Taylor, Coloccini, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Perch, Tiote, Bigirimana, Cabaye, Anita, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Marveaux, Gosling, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Cisse, Gouffran, Campbell.
Arsenal (squad): Szczesny, Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Monreal, Cazorla, Walcott, Ramsey, Rosicky, Arteta, Giroud, Fabianski, Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Vermaelen, Coquelin, Gervinho, Jenkinson, Gibbs.