sport

Wenger: Newcastle will battle

Manager Arsene Wenger says Arsenal must put Newcastle's poor recent form to one side and prepare for a battle in Monday night's televised clash at the Emirates Stadium.

Newcastle come into the game on a run of five consecutive defeats, but welcome manager Alan Pardew back to the dugout following a lengthy touchline ban.

But Wenger, whose side need two wins from their remaining three Premier League matches to secure Champions League qualification next season, has urged against any sense of complacency against Pardew's men.

"You know that Newcastle have quality, so of course we have to prepare like we will face a Premier League battle," the Arsenal manager said.

"The exciting thing in the Premier League is that everybody fights for every game and we have to prepare for that.

"We have come back (with) a better display in our offensive quality which brings confidence, so that is what we want to build on now."

Arsenal look set to strengthen their squad over the summer with Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender one reported target.

His acquisition could cast doubt over Mikel Arteta's future at the club, but Wenger indicated the 32-year-old, who is out of contract in 2015, still has a major role to play for Arsenal.

"I like Mikel Arteta because of his quality, his focus, his commitment and his 'winner' attitude. I have big respect for what he has achieved this season," the Arsenal boss said.

"He is at that difficult age, but he is very conscientious, very professional and he has a couple of years left, yes."

Arsenal look set to welcome back captain Thomas Vermaelen who is set to be available again after sitting out the 3-0 win at Hull City with a hamstring problem.