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.”


Newcastle are on vacation. Bet the farm on Arsenal.

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

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Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

[ MORE: Ozil, Coquelin say Arsenal can win the title this season ]

The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.

Reports link Guardiola with Manchester City summer move

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There are claims out of Spain that Manchester City has a verbal agreement to bring Pep Guardiola to town when his Bayern Munich contract expires in June.

Don’t expect comment from Guardiola, who bristles when discussing his future. In the past he’s hinted he might not be the right man for the Bavarian side, but has lamented any questions about clubs other than Bayern.

Now Mundo Deportivo writer Francesc Aguilar says there’s a secret agreement between Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain to reunite at the Etihad Stadium this summer.

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Both Barcelona buffs and former Spanish internationals, Begiristain was Barca’s director of football when Guardiola took over for Frank Rjikaard in 2008.

Manuel Pellegrini signed a contract extension this summer and has led the club to a Premier League title, though the club has struggled in European competition. For what it’s worth, the Manchester Evening News got rumor reaction from Sergio Aguero:

On the latest Guardiola rumour, Kun said: “It has been talked about a lot. I don’t know him, but he’s a great manager and it’s wonderful to have the best managers train you.”

But he also added: “I’m very good with Manuel Pellegrini, we talk a lot. I’m happy in the team and with him, but the club will be the one who chooses who comes in.”

In other words, “I’m really good, and they pay me well enough that I’m prepared to play for any big name that arrives.”

It’s a story to keep up with, even as it intrudes on the seasons of two big, rich European clubs.