So it finally comes down to this – the potential last game of the season for (while not counting out the play-off possibility that I have discussed here) Arsenal that will decide the club’s fate and also the magnitude of impact on its future. This season has seen Arsenal stumble and splutter initially before roaring into contention again and being on the brink of thwarting their north London rivals Tottenham again in the bid for Champions League qualification. The scenario that is unfolding is almost eerily similar to last season when Arsenal went into their last game against West Brom at The Hawthorns needing a win to secure 3rd spot. This time around, it’s the trip to St. James’ Park that will define their season and ultimately the summer and the next campaign too, for failure to secure a place in the top four could see them miss out on lucrative signings in the summer which would be ironic given the speculation of the availability of a huge transfer budget this time around.
Arsenal have been outstanding in their last nine League games which have incidentally come after a painful loss to Tottenham which many thought would be the killing blow to their hopes of a top four finish this season. But the club has rebounded quite spectacularly and scored 23 points out of a possible 27 without losing a game. And they have yet again managed to take advantage of the Spurs’ shortcomings down the stretch.
The last game at St. James’ Park on May 19th will surely be as tough as it can get, with no doubt a stadium full of rampant Geordies spurring their club on to crush Arsenal’s hopes. Newscastle have managed to avoid the relegation axe this season and they would be going into the game boisterous and with nothing to lose. Beating Arsenal would no doubt be their aim and with all the pressure piling up on the Gunners, it would surely be a pulsating encounter – and tense too, from Arsenal’s point of view.
Arsenal were involved in a nervy affair at the Emirates against Wigan this Tuesday and finally broke free a few minutes after the hour mark with some scintillating play, but not before enduring some heart-in-the-mouth moments. A similar encounter against Newcastle might transpire again but Arsenal need to keep their heads and score the decisive goals early and stay ahead. All the brave performances Arsenal have put up so far this season will barely matter if they do not come out on top this Sunday. A win might just be the biggest of their season and Newcastle will no doubt try to do everything they can to deny that. Arsenal’s strength and resolve will be put to the sword and need to respond with fervour.
The prospect of Giroud’s eligibility to play in the match is exciting and good news for the Gunners, but it will be interesting to see how Wenger chooses to field his team. It is going to be 90 minutes of agony or ecstasy again for the Gunners and their fans, a game certainly not for the feeble of heart!