Many media and fans believe that the race for the final Champions League spot has already slipped away from Spurs and that Arsenal’s participation is assured.
However, here are 5 reasons why Spurs will be the team that qualifies for the competition next season and not the Gunners.
1). Newcastle’s attacking strength is Arsenal’s defensive weakness
Newcastle haven’t had the best of seasons this term, but their attack goes through the zones where Arsenal are most vulnerable, the right back area.
The Gunners have conceded a vast amount of chances, as well as goals through here, most notably on the side patrolled by Bacary Sagna.
The Frenchman has had his problems this season. His error and then subsequent foul on Robin van Persie to gift Man Utd an equalising penalty. Then at home to Wigan on Tuesday night, he allowed Arouna Kone in for a glorious chance at 1-1 to take the lead.
Arsenal did detonate Newcastle 7-3 at the Emirates earlier this season, but the game was 3-3 up until the 73rd minute. The Geordies had a very scratch line-up out that day, having to play Sylvain Marveaux and Gael Bigirimana in central midfield. What’s more, Gabriel Obertan and Papiss Demba Cisse were deployed by Alan Pardew in the wide positions.
Despite imploding towards the end, Newcastle did create chances and score goals from passes through Sagna’s right back zone.
This has been the Magpies’ strength all season and they would do well to employ a player like Hatem Ben Arfa or Yoan Gouffran on this side to expose Sagna.
Jonas Gutierrez has been given this role recently. Alan Pardew has sought points to stay up and gone with extra defensive presence the Argentinean offers. However, with Newcastle now safe, an attacking option on this flank would be a much better use of his resources to give the home fans something to cheer about.
2). Newcastle’s recent record at home to Arsenal
Arsenal are favourites to come away with three points, but St. James’s Park hasn’t been their happiest of hunting grounds recently. Four of the last five meetings in the Premier League there have ended in draws, including the infamous four-goal lead they let slip in 2011.
On that day, Newcastle also created a host of chances through the Arsenal right back zone, which again was the area guarded by Bacary Sagna.
Last season’s encounter ended in a rather drab 0-0 draw, but also saw another common occurrence, a sending off.
3). Arsenal’s disciplinary problems at St. James’s Park
Arsenal’s last two trips to St. James’s Park in the Premier League have seen them reduced to ten men each time.
Last season’s 0-0 draw saw Gervinho given his marching orders, but the game also yielded 8 yellow cards, of which five were for the Gunners.
The season before in the 4-4 draw, Abou Diaby was given a straight red and a further 5 yellow cards were also dished out in a fiery battle.
Howard Webb will be in charge on Sunday and he may have a job on his hands. Arsenal have been issued five red cards this season, with the World Cup Final referee giving Per Mertesacker his marching orders in their recent trip to the Hawthorns.
The Gunners have been given the most red cards of any team in the Premier League this season, what chance another on Sunday?
4). Alan Pardew may have made a rod for his own back
With a win at QPR, Newcastle ensured their Premier League survival. Alan Pardew’s comment of “Arsenal can beat Newcastle 4-0 for all I care” may just have made a rod for his own back.
All eyes will be on not only his team selection, but also their performance to see if they do indeed chuck it in.
He has since reneged on his words, saying it was merely ‘a joke.’ He’s since commented that he wants his Newcastle players “to go out with a bang” against the Gunners and give the home fans something to cheer.
St. James’s Park can be a tough place to go when the crowd are behind their Geordie heroes. The Gallowgate end can be worth a goal when in full voice, creating an intimidating atmosphere for anyone. Arsenal have had trouble in front of their own fans when they have become restless this season; the Georide faithful will prove pivotal in providing an even tougher test.
5). Spurs record against Sunderland
In contrast to Arsenal’s recent history of drawing at Newcastle, Spurs have faired well against the Magpies’ north-east neighbours. In our last six Premier League matches at home with the Mackems, we’ve emerged victorious on four occasions.
Last season saw us win 1-0 win courtesy of a Roman Pavlyuchenko strike. One-goal games have been regular occurrences; as was the case in this season’s trip to the Stadium of Light, which saw us come from a goal down to win 2-1.
It won’t be an easy task to beat Paulo Di Canio’s rejuvenated side, but i’ve taken a look at how we will do it in the Tottenham tactics preview for Spurs vs Sunderland.
It will be an afternoon of ups and downs, but I’m confident in Newcastle getting a draw, Spurs gaining a win and Champions League football at the end of it.