Arsenal seals Champions League spot
After a goal-less first-half, which mirrored what was happening at White Hart Lane between Tottenham and Sunderland, it took Arsenal less than ten-minutes into the second-half to to claim the winner which guaranteed their top-four finish ahead of their arch-rivals.
Newastle failed to deal with a Theo Walcott free-kick, and it fell for Laurent Koscielny just six-yards out and he volleyed home with great aplomb.
That goal was enough to mean that the result in North London was meaningless, although Tottenham’s did do their part as Gareth Bale fired home to win it for them but Arsenal’s did their job and claimed the three points they needed to claim a top-four finish by just one point.
Arsene Wenger’s were clearly a bit nervy from the start, more concerned with not conceding rather than scoring – although the first opening came for Walcott, but he fired over six-minutes in.
But with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley willing to share out £1million between the club’s non-football staff if they won – the home side did have something to play for, and Papiss Cisse came close to converting a cross Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa – who was playing as a make-shift left-back – but it flew just over.
Arsenal’s gamble of playing Mikel Arteta did not work as he was forced off on the half-hour with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming on, and they took time to adapt to this change.
Newcastle did have glimpses of goal with Yohan Cabaye testing Wojciech Szczesny before Hatem Ben Arfa blazed over the bar when he should of done better after finding room in the box.
One highlights of the first-half was just before the break on 37-minutes when Newcastle’s home fans gave a minute’s applause to their number 37 – the retiring Steve Harper, but he almost had a moment to forget just 30-seconds into the second-half. His poor clearance presented Walcott with a good chance, but the veteran shot-stopper saved well and Steven Taylor got back to clear – much to the keeper’s relief, but he was soon picking the ball out of the net.
A Walcott free-kick was not dealt with and it dropped to Koscielny off Yanga-Mbiwa and as Fabricio Coloccini failed to deal with it, the Arsenal center-half volleyed past Harper from close-range to send the traveling fans into raptures.
To their credit Newcastle did not just cave in and they pushed on looking for an equalizer but Koscielny and Per Mertesacker stood firm at the heart of Arsenal’s defense. Both were on hand to put a block on Yoan Gouffran inside the six-yard box, whilst Ben Arfa fired one just wide from long-range.
The late goal at Tottenham made for a nerve jangling finish, although it was Arsenal who should have doubled their lead as Walcott broke clear in the final minutes, and he beat Harper but his shot cannoned back off the post.
But despite their efforts Newcastle could not find a way through as Arsenal claimed the win which means the Magpies finish a lowly 16th, whilst the Gunners take their place at Europe’s top table once again as their qualification for next season’s Champions League was confirmed.