By Nick Ames
Thomas Vermaelen has fond memories of Newcastle’s last visit to Emirates Stadium - when he scored what proved to be a crucial late winner in Arsenal’s Champions League bid.
With just seconds of injury time left on March 12, the Belgian took matters into his own hands, charging the length of the pitch to latch onto Theo Walcott’s half-cleared cross and fire home dramatically to defeat a side that, at the time, was challenging strongly for that coveted European berth.
The Arsenal captain is in no doubt about the importance of that contribution as his side looks to beat the Magpies for a second time in 2012.
“That’s a game I have great memories of,” Vermaelen told the official matchday programme. “I managed to score the winner in injury time, and I think it was the most important goal I have scored for Arsenal.
“The teams were very close to each other in the league at the time, and we needed to win to help us towards the Champions League. It was an amazing feeling to score right at the end, and hopefully Saturday’s game will also leave us feeling positive.”
Saturday’s visitors ran Manchester United close at Old Trafford on Boxing Day, losing 4-3 to a late Javier Hernandez goal. Vermaelen believes that this demonstrates Newcastle’s ability to cause Arsenal problems, and admits he is surprised at their relatively low position in this season’s Premier League.
“I thought Newcastle did very well against Manchester United, so they’ll clearly pose a threat this weekend,” he said.
“Scoring three goals there [at Old Trafford] is always a good achievement, and in that situation you’d usually expect to come away with a draw or a win. United always seem to score one more goal than their opponents at the moment, though, and that proved to be the case again.
“Newcastle’s position in the table surprises me, especially when you look at how well they did last season. Most of their team is the same, and they put in some amazing performances back then.
“I think they deserve more points than they currently have, but we know very well that things can change quickly in this league. It will be a very hard game for us and we need to be ready.”
You can read more from Thomas in the matchday programme for the Newcastle match. Click here to subscribe
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