Spurs hoping that Harper doesn’t do a Fulop against Arsenal
Rewind back 12 months and Arsenal needed a result on the final day of the season against West Brom to secure Champions League qualification. Thankfully for them they were massively helped by what can only be described as a shoddy display by a second string goalkeeper.
Marton Fulop had only played one Premier League game last season before being called upon for the Arsenal clash because of a hamstring injury to Ben Foster.
The result was that Arsenal won 3-2, with Fulop completely at fault for the first and third goals and not covering himself in glory for the second either when failing to save Andre Santos’ shot.
Heading into the final day of this campaign, Arsenal find themselves in virtually the same position, knowing that a victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park will guarantee them a top-four berth and potentially ensure they repeat their finish of third from the last campaign.
And again they will be up against a deputy goalkeeper, whose appearances have been sporadic across the campaign.
Steve Harper has not started for Newcastle in the league since October, slipping to third in the pecking order behind Tim Krul and Rob Elliot.
The Arsenal showdown represents an emotional occasion for Harper, as it will be his last game for a club that he has been at for 20 years. However, whether he would have picked this as a type of testimonial is doubtful.
Watford have already seen the difficulty of relying on a third choice goalkeeper this season when Jack Bonham’s display in a defeat to Leeds on the final day of the regular Championship campaign pretty much cost them automatic promotion.
Harper may be far more experienced and is unlikely to let the occasion get to him, but there is a small chance that mistakes will creep in if he tries too hard.
Arsenal are plenty short enough at 8/13 to triumph, but against opposition with nothing to play for now their safety from relegation is confirmed, this does look the most likely outcome.
Tottenham need Arsenal to slip up if they are to break into the top four and based on last season, this is unlikely, especially as in two career starts with Arsenal, Harper has conceded seven goals.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.