Koscielny strike secures Champions League football for Gunners
Arsene Wenger's side cemented their fourth-place finish with a
composed victory against the Magpies, with the match-winning goal coming
from their French centre-back
The Gunners' victory meant that regardless of
how Tottenham got on against Sunderland at White Hart Lane, they would
be the north London side appearing in the Champions League come
Arsene Wenger risked Mikel Arteta from the start
after the Spain midfielder was given injections in his calf on Friday to
patch up the injury he sustained in the midweek win over Wigan, but the
decision proved a poor one as the Gunners captain was forced off
through injury in the 29th minute.
Newcastle marked Steve
Harper's final game by handing him the captaincy for the day, as the
goalkeeper reached the end of a 20-year spell at the club. The
38-year-old was afforded a marvellous send-off by Newcastle's supporters
as they chanted his name for the duration of the 37th minute, to
symobolise the goalkeeper's shirt number.
touched the ball in the opening five minutes as Santi Cazorla and Aaron
Ramsey dominated possession in midfield for the visitors, and that
impressive spell was only broken by a thunderous challenge from Cheick
Tiote on Tomas Rosicky.
The hosts fashioned the first chance of
the game in the 10th minute when Papiss Cisse fired just over after
strong play down the left-hand side from Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.
Pardew's side continued to threaten down the flanks, as Hatem Ben Arfa
and Yoan Gouffran enjoyed themselves playing in an attacking three off
Wenger's decision to start Arteta despite the calf injury
he picked up against Wigan during the week backfired shortly before the
half hour mark, as the former Everton midfielder had to be replaced by
Arsenal appeared to click through a
couple of gears at the start of the second half, as Theo Walcott and
Cazorla began to run at Newcastle's defence, and in the 52nd minute
their pressure told when Koscielny gave them the lead.
The Frenchman was on hand to smash a close range volley past Harper
after Theo Walcott's free kick sat up for him inside the Newcastle
Just moments after going ahead the Gunners were
fortunate not to concede a free kick in a very dangerous position, as
the ball struck Ramsey's arm as he slid to dispossess Ben Arfa in full
flight. Despite being just yards away from the action Howard Webb waved
Newcastle withdrew Yohan Cabaye shortly after, and that
sapped the life from the hosts' play as Arsenal bookended their
performance by dominating possession in a similar vein to how they
started the game and defended resolutely to claim three massive points.