Hull City v Arsenal - Premier League

Premier League Preview: Arsenal v. Newcastle

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  • Arsenal have won their last four Premier League meetings with the Magpies; their best ever run against them in the competition.
  • Newcastle remain in the top-half of the table despite losing nine of their last 12 Premier League matches.
  • The Magpies have scored just 10 Premier League goals in 2014, fewer than any other side.

With a win over a Newcastle, Arsenal will enjoy a four point lead on Everton in the quest for the Premier League’s final Champions League spot.

It shouldn’t be difficult. The Magpies packed it weeks ago, beginning with their lackluster 0-3 home loss to Everton. That began what would become a month straight without a goal in the league – losing to Southampton away 4-0, Manchester United at home 0-4 and Stoke City away 1-0. Last week Alan Pardew’s men finally managed to score but they promptly coughed up two goals to lose 2-1 to Swansea City, Newcastle’s fifth straight loss.

The pathetic run of form has been the result of a number of elements, chiefly the sale of Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain in January. Losing their talisman was tantamount to losing their soul and the Magpies made no attempt to recover. Of course, Alan Pardew’s headbutt on Hull City midfielder David Meyler didn’t help the situation and the manager was handed a seven-match ban. This evening marks his long awaited return to the dugout.

Despite the tragic form, Newcastle has somehow managed to remain in the top half of the table meaning safety in next year’s Premier League is assured. This fact should keep the Magpies underperforming at their very best and ensuring Arsenal will have no problem picking them apart.

Since the 0-3 loss to Everton three weeks ago, the Gunners have looked sharp, beating West Ham and Hull City to give themselves a fist-hold on the 4th spot. With the Toffees all but throwing away their Champions League hopes in Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Southampton, Arsenal is relatively free to coast in the gate knowing that winning two of their final three matches will be enough to secure top-tier European football.

The Gunners enter this afternoon’s match (3:00pm ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) in decent shape with only Thomas Vermaelen a doubt with a hamstring strain. For Newcastle, a broken kneecap for Papiss Cisse rules him out while Luuk de Jong (ankle) and Moussa Sissoko (hamstring) are both late fitness tests.

What They’re Saying

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew: “I will sit down a little bit more, but I still will be on the touchline,” he said. “It’s important that the team sees I’m there – we are a team and I am part of that. I have thought about my situation going forward and I think I will be better for it.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger: “He will try to control himself much more. You feel frustrated when you are not close to your team physically because you are used to it and you feel you still have a level of intervention. Maybe it is purely subjective, but it exists in your mind.”

Predictions

Newcastle are on vacation. Bet the farm on Arsenal.

Viktoria Plzen set to sign midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz

Obafemi Martins, Oniel Fisher, Andreas Ivanschitz
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.

Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.

Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

No financial details were given.

The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.

Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.

FIFA allows Matip to represent Liverpool during AFCON

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Joel Matip of Liverpool heads to score his team's third goal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Liverpool at Selhurst Park on October 29, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images
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Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.

The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.

[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]

Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.

He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.

Man United captain Rooney raises $1.5m from charity game

FILE - A Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017 file photo of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney leaving the field after the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, England. Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) for charity from a friendly game against former club Everton last year. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson)
AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.

That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.

[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]

Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”

Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.

Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.

WATCH: Lewandowski’s juggling stoppage time winner

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the German soccer Bundesliga match between SC Freiburg and FC Bayern Munich in Freiburg, Germany, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Patrick Seeger/dpa via AP)
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Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.

The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.

[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]

And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.

It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.

Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.

Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday