Arsenal v Newcastle: Olivier Giroud 'focused' on finishing above Everton in Premier League table
Striker realises Arsenal's European hopes lie in their own hands in their battle with Everton
Monday 28 April 2014
Arsenal will be out to take a huge step towards securing Champions League qualification once more with victory over Newcastle on Monday night, when Magpies boss Alan Pardew returns to the touchline after a seven-match suspension.
Pardew was hit with a record sanction from the Premier League after losing his composure and headbutting Hull midfielder David Meyler during the 4-1 win at the KC Stadium on March 1, and is promising a more relaxed approach when he returns to his technical area.
Newcastle have suffered five consecutive defeats to slip towards mid-table, which has put scrutiny on the long-term position of Pardew.
By contrast, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has seen his side regain confidence after what was a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out win in the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan.
Since then, the Gunners have won back-to-back Barclays Premier League matches and could move four points clear of Everton in the race to secure Champions League qualification after the Toffees lost at Southampton on Saturday afternoon.
Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud, however, maintains there can be no sense of the job already being completed, just a few weeks after a 3-0 loss at Everton looked to have derailed their ambitions of a 17th straight Champions League campaign.
"We know that Everton will be here until the end, so we just have to keep focused on our performance and our game," said the France international.
"We know that if we win every single game, then we have the destiny in our own hands, so we have to do the job and win these games.
"Everton will not leave us alone until the end. It will be an exciting finish."
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Wenger does not expect any fireworks in the dugout on Monday night.
The French coach was involved in a heated confrontation with Pardew when at West Ham in November 2006, and feels all bosses must keep their emotions in check.
"He will try to control himself much more," said Wenger.
"You feel frustrated when you are not close to your team physically because you are used to it and you feel you still have a level of intervention. Maybe it is purely subjective, but it exists in your mind.
"It is a job where you are under huge pressure - at the Emirates (Stadium) we had no incidents because the distance between the two managers is big.
"Sometimes you get upset because you hear what the other manager is saying and you go 'what is he doing, why is he talking to the referee and the fourth official?' At Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs, you basically are very close."
Wenger added: "Sometimes I stand up, sometimes I sit down, sometimes I speak with (assistant manager) Steve (Bould), but still most of the time I am up.
"Sometimes I try (to stay away from touchline), yes, consciously, because when you get up there you know you are tensed.
"I try to sit down when I feel I am in a negative mood, because then on the touchline you can become a handicap and you can have a negative influence (on the players), your presence can be negative."
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