Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has a host of injury and suspension troubles ahead of his side’s season finale with Champions League-chasing Arsenal on Sunday afternoon.
Midfielder Cheikh Tiote (hamstring) was forced off early in the win over QPR last time out, but is expected to be fit to start. However, fellow enforcer Moussa Sissoko, striker Shola Ameobi and defender Ryan Taylor (all knee) are out.
Davide Santon (hamstring) is back in training and could come back into contention, whilst Steven Taylor (illness) and Massadio Haidara (hamstring) could also return to the first-team squad.
Goalkeeper Steve Harper, who has been with the club since 1993, will play his last game at St. James’ Park as Tim Krul (shoulder) is unavailable and Rob Elliot serves a one-match ban after seeing red at QPR last time out.
Arsene Wenger could be without the influential Mikel Arteta (calf) for the do-or-die clash with the Mapgpies after the Spanish midfielder picked up a knock late on in Tuesday’s win over Wigan.
The Gunners boss has few other injury problems to contend with, however, with long-term absentee Abou Diaby (knee) the only other player definatley out.
Jack Wilshere, who will have surgery on an ankle problem at the end of the season, could return to the heart of midfield, whilst France striker Olivier Giroud is available for selection after completing a three match ban.
- The Magpies can claim a maximum tally of 44 points with victory on Sunday. That would be their lowest points tally in the Premier League since they were relegated with 34 in 2008-09.
- Alan Pardew’s side have shared the points just once at St James’ Park this season. Only Manchester United (0) have drawn more home games.
- Newcastle have failed to score in their last two home games (0-3 vs Sunderland and 0-6 vs Liverpool). August 2007 was the last time they failed to score in three consecutive games at St. James’ Park.
- Arsenal can earn Champions League qualification for the 16th consecutive season with a win. A loss or draw will also be enough if north London rivals Tottenham fail to beat Newcastle’s fierce foes Sunderland.
- The Gunners currently lie fourth with 70 points. They earned that same amount when finishing third in the Premier League last season.
- Arsenal are the best side in the Premier League in the second half of games. The Gunners would top the league with 71 points if results based solely on the second period were considered.