Newcastle v Arsenal 16:00
– Newcastle fans will be breathing a sigh of relief as their Premier League status for next season was ensured following Wigan’s defeat by their opponent’s this weekend. They have also recently been back in the win column after a 1-2 win against QPR at Loftus Road.
– Alan Pardew will be desperate to retain the services of his captain Fabricio Coloccini for next season. The inspirational Newcastle leader has been his side’s defensive talisman this term and their defensive organisation and grit has notably faltered when he has been absent. According to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index Coloccini has amassed a quite superb 81.8% tackle success rate from 44 attempted challenges, as well as racking up a squad-high 183 defensive contributions.
– Another key member of the squad who must not be allowed to leave is Yohan Cabaye. The Frenchman has been the central man in almost all of Newcastle’s creative efforts this season, completing a pass in the opponent’s half on average once every 4.9 minutes, as well as delivering 67 crosses, more than any other Newcastle player.
– Newcastle’s future in the Premier League may be secure but you can guarantee that the potential to spoil Arsenal’s season by preventing them qualifying for the Champions League will provide plenty of motivation. One man who never needs much motivating is the ever-committed Jonas Gutierrez. The Argentine midfielder has compiled a quite superb tackle success rate for a midfielder of 72% from 75 challenges.
– Arsenal showed both their grit and quality as they soundly beat Wigan 4-1 on Tuesday night to send the Lactics into the Championship. A brace from Lukas Podolski, as well as strikes from Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, ensured a vital win for Arsene Wenger’s side. They go into this weekend knowing that only a win will definitively ensure Champions league football next season.
– Theo Walcott’s development continues apace after he signed a new contract in January. Despite still not being played through the middle as frequently as he would like, the pacy winger has been in devastating form this season, racking up 13 assists and 14 goals in the league. Such a prolific strike rate has been borne of his much improved accuracy in front of goal, Walcott hit the target with 73.2% of his 82 attempts on goal.
– Another young Englishman to have enhanced his reputation this season is Kieran Gibbs. He’s been in sterling form in all areas this term, not least in his primary defensive duties, having compiled a tackle success rate of 72.5% from 69 attempts. This represents this best rate in the Arsenal squad according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index.
– His defensive colleague Laurent Koscielny is another who has stepped up to the mark for the Gunners this term. If reports are to be believed he is drawing admiring glances from some of Europe’s other big clubs, not surprising given his record of making a defensive contribution on average once every 14.8 minutes this season.