Remy’s Arsenal audition only thing for Wenger to fear from Newcastle
Arsenal have lost at home to Newcastle United just once since moving to the Emirates Stadium from Highbury, so they are strong odds-on favourites with Coral at 3/10 for victory.
Back then, the French connection was very much in north London, not the Northeast. Sure, a certain Gallic flavour is still in Gunners ranks, with the likes of Laurent Koscielny, Mathieu Flamini and Olivier Giroud down their spine, but the cross-Channel presence is stronger on Tyneside.
If the feeling took him, Magpies manager Alan Pardew could almost name an entire team of French-speaking footballers were everyone fit. Chief among five Les Bleus internationals is loan star striker Loic Remy – the Toon top scorer with 13 Premier League goals, who is 10/3 to add to that tally anytime here.
Perhaps it’s just because he’s a compatriot of Arsene Wenger’s, reportedly rejected advances from north London neighbours Tottenham and his contract is owned by another capital club QPR, but gossip columns insist Remy will be an Arsenal player next term.
By his own admission, the France forward is looking for a “top five” European club to join, and a Gunners win against his temporary team would mathematically ensure they fit that profile. Curiously, Remy has never netted against Arsenal.
Everton’s self-inflicted loss at Southampton, means Arsenal are now nailed on for a top four finish at 1/20. Victory at home over a Newcastle side on a dismal run of five straight defeats looks assured, despite the presence of Remy in visiting ranks.
This, taken alongside so many fruitless trips to the Emirates, also illustrates why Pardew’s team are 9/1 outsiders to upset their hosts. Even a draw to steady a Toon ship, whose crew already look to have sailed for their holidays during the touchline absence of their banned admiral, is a remote prospect at 9/2.
Pardew can happily take his place back in the dugout after serving a seven-match suspension, however. Will his presence galvanise the heroes of the Gallowgate End on this away day in London? The odds suggest otherwise.
Magpies stalwart Shola Ameobi recently called for the squad to be strengthened in the summer. The target man touched on a topic that travelling Toon fans will be talking about on their trains and buses.
Ameobi is 5/1 to give them a goal to cheer anytime here, and looks set for involvement because Papiss Cisse (knee) and Luuk de Jong (ankle) are both injured. Combative midfielder Moussa Sissoko may return, however.
Newcastle’s season looks to have collapsed since the turn of the year. Flashpoints of a floundering campaign have been the sale of playmaker Yohan Cabaye, injury and suspension disrupting the rhythm of Remy, and the infamous Pardew headbutt on Hull City midfielder David Meyler.
Arsenal can be confident of three points here, because of Olivier Giroud. He has three in as many outings against the Magpies, and has picked up a maximum nine Premier League points from those meetings.
Giroud is odds-on at 10/11 to score anytime, and a better price of 4/1 for two or more – he has a brace when paired with this opposition on his CV already. The incentive is there for him to outshine his fellow Frenchman and potential club teammate, or even strike partner, for next term Remy here.
Wenger may also see his centre backs engage in conduct unbecoming of Gunners players by scoring from set pieces. A defender has netted in two of the last four meetings with Newcastle for Arsenal.
Club captain Thomas Vermaelen, who could return here, is 8/1 in the anytime market, while Per Mertesacker is a 9/1 chance, but Koscielny is the best value at 12/1.