Ramsey to guide Arsenal to win
Arsenal welcome out-of-sorts Newcastle to the Emirates on Monday night and Aaron Ramsey can steer them to victory.
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Arsenal v Newcastle (2000 BST)
Here we have a game in which making a case for Newcastle is close to impossible. Out of form and out of interest, they look there for the taking for an Arsenal side who were ruthless at Hull last Sunday and know that fourth place is very much in their hands.
Indeed if you are to take on the hosts you do so in the hope that their inefficiencies resurface because there's virtually nothing in the form book which tells you that Newcastle are capable of controlling the outcome of this game. Of course, at 3/10 or thereabouts it's quite clear that this is regarded as a home banker by most and the task is to find a way of profiting that offers a little more value.
Aaron Ramsey looks the most reliable option. Arsenal's best player this season made an impressive return to the starting line-up at the KC Stadium, his opening goal again demonstrating how clinical he is in front of goal. It seems certain he'll start here and at 2/1 to find the net at any time, he makes plenty of appeal to score his 10th goal of the Premier League season. That he's scored in 12 of his 35 appearances for club and country makes the price look reasonable already, but when we factor in how dominant Arsenal are expected to be and the fact he's scored in bunches all season, something much closer to evens would seem more sensible.
The Welsh midfielder can be backed at 6/1 to open the scoring and that too seems fair, but instead he's worth another bet at the same price to be named man of the match. Sure to feature prominently in the Monday Night Football build-up, Ramsey is the freshest and most confident player in the Arsenal squad right now and the fact that he has eight assists to go with the goals shows that we have many ways of landing the bet. I can't help but feel he only needs a decent game in a home win to be the man most likely here and if he finds the net in an Arsenal win, it's long odds-on he'll get the champagne.
The other player to consider is the bang in-form Lukas Podolski, whose ability to find the bottom corner makes him pound-for-pound the most clinical player in the Arsenal squad even if he occasionally struggles to have an impact. If given the nod, 11/8 about him scoring will look fair but in relation to Ramsey's price it's probably a shade short.
Whilst our angles are based around one player, those who like to speculate on the scoreline have an ideal platform to land a big-priced winner in a fixture which saw Arsenal win 7-3 last year. 'Any other' is worth considering on the exchanges while Arsenal to score four or more goals is also tempting given that Newcastle appear to have signed off for the season.
The visitors do offer some attacking threat thanks in chief to Loic Remy but Alan Pardew has big injury problems elsewhere and has given no indication so far that he can get his side up for this game.
My feeling is many of the visiting side will arrive at the Emirates braced for a thumping and, providing Arsenal take their chances, that's what I expect they'll get.
Verdict: Arsenal 4 Newcastle 0
Newcastle have lost eight of their last 10 Barclays Premier League games at Arsenal (W1 D1); losing 7-3 there last season.
Lukas Podolski, with 19 goals and 11 assists in the Premier League has the third best mins per goal involvement in the competition's history (97 mins), behind Thierry Henry and Sergio Aguero.
Podolski has scored a brace in each of his last two Premier League appearances and has netted five in his last five in the top-flight.
The Magpies have scored just 10 Premier League goals in 2014, fewer than any other side.