By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 0
Arsenal 1 (Koscielny 52)
Newcastle United's 2012/13 campaign came to a close with a 1-0 defeat against Arsenal on Sunday at St. James' Park.
Laurent Koscielny's second half effort was all that separated the teams on Tyneside, in a Barclays Premier League fixture which could have gone either way.
But Koscielny had the last laugh early in the second period, volleying home a flick-on from close range.
Despite the result, it was a much-improved home performance from the Magpies which will give plenty of optimism for next sason.
Theo Walcott fired the first warning shot of the afternoon, drilling a half-volley over the top from the edge of the area after Santi Cazorla's inswinging free-kick was only half cleared.
But United's response was immediate as they came within inches of levelling. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa strode down the left flank and raced past Bacary Sagna before delivering for Cisse, who hooked a left-footed shot agonisingly off target.
Gouffran was next to threaten, first as a provider, slotting a dangerous ball across the six-yard box which Cisse just failed to connect with, before striding through the Arsenal back line but dragging his strike well wide.
On the half-hour mark Cazorla should have done much better with a first time effort, having been picked out by Kieran Gibbs' pull-back, however the Spaniard shot high into the Leazes End.
Ben Arfa was growing into the match with every minute and as the break approached the French internation turned Gibbs inside out - not for the first time - before drilling over.
Newcastle had Steve Harper - making his 199th appearance for the Club after 20 years of service - to thank for keeping the scores level less than 30 seconds into the second half.
Walcott was released down the right and sent a low shot across the face of goal and heading for the bottom corner, until the intervention of the veteran goalkeeper's right glove, which turned it away to safety.
But he was helpless to prevent the Gunners taking a 52nd-minute lead. Per Mertesacker flicked on Walcott's right-wing free-kick and Koscielny sent a brilliant acrobatic volley into the Gallowgate End net from close range.
Marveaux teed up Ben Arfa in the 72nd minute but the forward, trying his luck from 20 yards, failed to trouble visiting keeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Eighteen-year-old striker Adam Campbell was then introduced for the final exchanges but the Academy starlet was unable to conjured up what would have been a deserved equaliser.
Instead, Arsenal almost doubled their advantage deep into stoppage time but Walcott - having raced clear of the hosts' rearguard - slotted a shot against the foot of the post.
Newcastle United (4-3-3): Steve Harper (c); Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Adam Campbell 81; Yohan Cabaye (Vurnon Anita 57), Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez; Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse, Yoan Gouffran (Sylvain Marveaux 65)
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Wojciech Szczesny; Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs; Mikel Arteta (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 28), Aaron Ramsey; Tomas Rosicky, Santi Cazorla (Jack Wilshere 89), Theo Walcott; Lukas Podolski (Olivier Giroud 77)
Subs not used: Lukasz Fabianski, Nacho Monreal, Thomas Vermaelen, Gervinho
Referee: Howard Webb (Yorkshire)
Bookings: Newcastle - Gutierrez (22); Arsenal - Rosicky (39), Gibbs (81)
Attendance: 52,354 (3,200 Arsenal)