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Newcastle V Arsenal at St James' Park : Match Preview
Updated published : 18 May 2013 14:01:23Rss feed
Newcastle V Arsenal - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.
Pardew struggling with ups and downs
Alan Pardew has admitted he has struggled to cope with the highs and lows of life as Newcastle manager.
The 51-year-old was named Manager of the Year by the League Managers' Association after guiding the Magpies to a remarkable fifth-placed finish in the Barclays Premier League last season.
Twelve months on, Pardew heads into the final-day clash with Arsenal mightily relieved to still be in charge of a top-flight club after a desperate and unexpected fight against relegation which has seen a vociferous minority of fans calling for his head grow significantly both in number and volume.
Predecessor Graeme Souness famously spoke of the "goldfish bowl" existence of the club's employees on Tyneside and the Londoner admits his tenure has proved something of a roller-coaster ride.
Pardew said: "I have been here two and a half years and I have probably experienced every emotion you could go through - and that was in the first six weeks.
"But I have been here two and a half years through it all and just sometimes the sensationalism of it all is frustrating as the manager.
"When we do really well, there's a real over the top reaction and then when it goes the other way, it's the reverse.
"We have to accept that that's how it is going to be at this football club and be able to deal with it.
"But this year has taught us how to deal with that side of it when the criticism comes, that we need to really batten down the hatches and make sure we get a result whichever way it is to get us back on a run."
Sunday will see 38-year-old keeper Steve Harper make his 199th and final appearance for the club he joined 20 years ago with Tim Krul injured and Rob Elliot suspended.
Central defender Steven Taylor will return after illness while midfielder Sylvain Marveaux (groin) is also fully fit again.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged his team to concentrate on winning a football match and nothing more.
The Gunners would secure a top-four finish with victory at St James' Park.
Indeed, depending on Chelsea's result at home to Everton, they still have an outside chance of snatching third place and with it automatic entry into the Champions League - or even forcing an unprecedented play-off, set for May 26 at Villa Park, were the two clubs' overall statistics to finish equal.
However, should Wenger's side slip up against the Magpies, who are now safe from the threat of relegation after FA Cup winners Wigan were sent down following a 4-1 defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday night, then Tottenham could leapfrog them by beating Sunderland.
Having fought so hard through a superb nine-match unbeaten league run to stand on the brink of what, given the circumstances of earlier in the campaign, would be a quite remarkable turnaround, Wenger expects his side to hold their nerve when it matters most.
"We know how to behave to win the games, so it's (about getting) that certainty from our long run and bringing that into our next game. It's as simple as that," the Arsenal manager said.
"It is a football match and recently we have shown that we can win these games.
"We will just continue to do what we did until now."
Arsenal have a major doubt over midfielder Mikel Arteta (calf).
England international Jack Wilshere, set to have an operation on his troublesome ankle next week, is on stand-by should he deemed fit enough to start and play on painkillers.
Striker Olivier Giroud returned from a three-match suspension.
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