With only two games to go in the Premier League for Arsenal, they finally look in a comfortable position to secure a Champions League place after a dominant 3-0 victory over Newcastle United. After Everton lost on Saturday against Southampton, today’s game for Arsenal was an opportunity to assert themselves in fourth place, and they did exactly that.
Arsenal were impressive and with key members of their team now back from injury, they look like a different team to the one which faltered so dramatically while they were top of the league a few months back. Newcastle, to be fair, were awful and didn’t pose too much of a challenge to the Gunners, but you still have to perform to win which Arsenal did.
Newcastle lacked fight and looked like a team just playing out the rest of the season. The most important game for them seems to be the waiting game — waiting for the season to end and the holidays to begin. They are safe from relegation and they cannot achieve anything with a higher league finish, so you can understand it to a small extent. It does happen to certain teams every year, but it doesn’t help their manager which may be the most telling.
Alan Pardew has come under pressure lately, and it is clear that the Newcastle fans are unhappy with their manager at the moment. As this game unfolded and it became clear Newcastle were about to lose again, some Newcastle fans in the crowd unfurled banners asking for Pardew to leave the club. This was to be expected, and the fact the players did not have more fight, knowing their manager was coming under pressure, should be worrying for everybody associated with the club — especially Pardew himself.
Arsenal will be delighted, though. They played well and look like they have retrieved some of their better form from earlier in the season. They have the FA Cup final coming up next month, and they look like they will go into that in good form. If Arsenal now go on to secure a Champions League place and win the FA Cup, then it will be considered a good season overall. Which, about a month ago, looked unlikely, but now looks very likely barring an upset at Wembley.
Although Arsenal have been the victims in a few upsets in years gone by — and in cup finals too — nothing is assured. But if they play like they did against Newcastle, then they should avoid that and the season should be a good one. If they don’t, the season will be considered to be an underachieving one, and, unfortunately for Arsenal, they have known all about that in recent years.