Arsenal face Newcastle United in the Premier League at St James' Park on Sunday.
With Stats Zone, you can brush up on the facts and figures behind every Gunners match this season, brought to you by Opta and the Official Matchday Programme.
SUPER SANTI TAKES CONTROL
Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Santi Cazorla has had an outstanding first season in English football, and delivered one of his best performances of the campaign against Wigan on Tuesday night. With the scores locked at 1-1 at half-time (with the Spaniard having claimed an assist for Lukas Podolski's opener), Cazorla took charge after the interval.
Nominally stationed on the left flank, the 28-year-old did not play as a typical winger, more of an inside forward who constantly cut infield to cause chaos (as our heatmap above shows). Cazorla twice went close to giving Arsenal the lead at the start of the second half - having popped up in the middle of the box - and then drifted out wide to the right to lay on the pass for Theo Walcott's goal (blue arrow in chalkboard above).
His third assist came as he temporarily took up perhaps his most natural position - as a No 10 in the space between the Wigan midfield and defence - to head the ball through to Podolski. But Cazorla was back on the left for his fourth and final assist, playing a delightful ball up the touchline for Aaron Ramsey to run on to and score.
It was a complete performance, and Cazorla's intelligent movement, quick feet and exceptional vision meant he was simply too hot to handle. More of the same at Newcastle on Sunday would be warmly welcomed.
CASE FOR THE DEFENCE - NEWCASTLE v ARSENAL
As Arsenal prepare for their final game of the season, they can reflect with pride on the defensive improvements they have made over the past few months. For so long a stick with which to beat the squad, the backline has arguably become its biggest strength in recent times - but it will be tested to the fore at St James' Park against a Newcastle side free of pressure after escaping relegation.
Since embarking on their 10-game unbeaten run, the Gunners have conceded just seven goals, while over the course of the season they have the best defensive record away from home in the Premier League. It offers real encouragement ahead of a game at Newcastle that they will likely have to win to secure a top-four place.
Alan Pardew's side, in contrast, have conceded 30 goals at St James' Park this term, with only relegated Wigan and Reading having worse records at their respective homes. However, the Gunners have only eked out one-goal victories in their past three away games (against QPR, Fulham and West Brom), so in all likelihood they will need the backline, marshalled by Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, to be at their most resolute on Sunday to secure the three points they need.
NEWCASTLE UNITED v ARSENAL - MATCH FACTS
- Of sides that Newcastle have faced more than twice at St James' Park, only against Manchester United (21 per cent) have they won a lower proportion of their games than versus Arsenal (28 per cent)
- Newcastle lost their previous game this season against Arsenal 7-3; the only time that they have conceded seven goals in a Premier League match
- Newcastle have won just one of their last 11 Premier League games against Arsenal (W1 D5 L5)
- Newcastle have failed to score in two successive Premier League home games. They last failed to score in three in a row back in August 2007 (six games)
- Arsenal have won four successive Premier League away games. The last time that the Gunners won five in a row away in the competition was back in September 2004
- Four different Arsenal players (Walcott, Cazorla, Giroud and Podolski) have scored 10 or more goals in the Premier League this season, meaning that the Gunners are only the fourth side in history to have four players reach double figures in a single Premier League campaign
- Just four players have reached double figures in both goal and assist categories in the Premier League this season, with two of these being Arsenal players (Theo Walcott has 14 goals, 10 assists and Santi Cazorla has 12 goals, 11 assists)
- Santi Cazorla assisted four goals in Arsenal's midweek win over Wigan, becoming only the fourth player to do this in a Premier League game in the last 10 seasons
- Newcastle United have won only one of their games on the final day of a Premier League season in their previous 10 campaigns (D5 L4)
- If only the second half of Premier League matches counted this season, Arsenal would be top with 71 points, three points ahead of Manchester City
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